Monday, November 17, 2008

Who's that...? Oh it's the Witness!!

A new-be to the Yoga world, I have just uncovered a treasure that is probably pretty apparent to most people who have followed Yogic or Buddhist philosophy for a while!!!! Jack Kornfield ;)
It totally happened by accident... I think that I had read his name on the home page of Yoga Journal...and then a couple of days later (possibly weeks...I live in the freakin time for days or weeks...) I found a Jack Kornfield book called After The Ecstasy, The Laundry. I was blown away by it. I won't go into the premise of the book...just read it or listen (I actually have the audio book).

You know how sometimes you'll hear a piece of advice coming from a whirlwind of sources telling you "This is the way...Do it like this!!" And you'll hear this advice about a thousand and six times... and then one day you're just sitting in your car on your break. And you begin to listen Jack Kornfield on your ipod. *And keep in mind I've never heard this mans voice before* And all of a sudden you hear this soft, calm, slow but exceedingly comfortable voice. And this voice tells you "This is the way...Do it like this!!" And somehow you seem to forget every other time you heard the advice in past because those times mean nothing now that you're really hearing it for the first time!!
Welcome to my new reality.

So now that I am a pseudo student of Jack's (we're tight), and have been meditating more and more... I am lead to the place that meditation can take you... The Witness! I don't think that I ever spent too much time in the Witness. Being Unbiased and neutral but still very enthusiastic about that which is being witnessed... I was pretty complacent as a youth...super lazy and un-involved... I was interested in knowledge and philosophy and science but was just so unmotivated to take any of it... But now? I'm am witnessing some crazy shit!!! When you meditate you really start to examine what your sources are. Where you came from... What choices you have made you who you are?

Today I really figured out that exceeding low self-esteem is my main reason for being a Yogi today. It was this lack of self-esteem that lead me to weight training... It was weight training and a real interest in myself that lead me to feeling comfortable in my own skin. It was also this interest that lead me to being interested in Anatomy and Physiology... which in turn lead to and lead to and lead to until we're here. And I found Yoga!!

But the things that I've heard over and over and just realized lately are all about our generosity in life. How much are we willing to give? How much time, how much effort? This concept of giving really put it's hand on me a couple of days ago when I was teaching a semi private session. Both of my students came in feeling depressed and sub-par. During our warm up of Sun Salutations I had said something to the effect that "In our Yoga practice we need to have a little faith... Faith in yourself to lead you to the right place in your practice and faith in the breath to help get you there." This really struck an accord with one of the girls so much that she actually stopped doing Sun A and just wanted to listen to what I had to say. She asked me a question and then another and rather than teaching Asana for the rest of the session we just talked. They asked questions and I gave answers if I had them.

The thing that I like most about Yoga is that it's so experiential... You need to do it to get it. "99% practice" as Pattabhi Jois says. So most of my answers for the ladies were based on my experiences and how I interpreted such experiences. The more questions they asked, the more I found myself really sharing my story with them. Telling them things that even my friends don't really hear about. After the session we all hugged and I felt this feeling that I had never gotten after teaching a class... This feeling that I had done something generous.... My epiphany... By listening to their questions and sharing my experiences I had practiced generosity. And it felt good.... Could this be a trend!!??

So hear it've heard it before... Generosity is the key!! Generosity to those around you and also generosity towards yourself. Try it if you haven't. Real generosity... without consideration of reward or praise... just pure generosity!! Keeping with the season, now is the perfect time.


Monday, November 3, 2008

When Challenged, Do I Run or Breath?

Lightly close the eyes...bring your attention to your breath...keep concentration on the cooling sensation on your inhalations and the warming sensation on exhalation at the rim of the nostrils...hold this concentraion strong for a few relax your concentration...Today we meditate on the sense of compassion...To deeply feel compassion toward all living things we must first bring our awareness to the suffering of all living things...Think of all the suffering that happens all around the world...think of suffering from the very extreme to the very subtle...from the poverty that happens all around the us to the subtle suffering of someone who stresses out over losing $100 at the casino...and think of every suffering in between...these are all types of suffering no matter how minute... Now imagine that every living being on our world could be free of all their suffering no matter how big or how hold this feeling at your heart...hold it strongly without waivering your concentration...

This is a meditation that I've found myself doing quite a bit since I've been taking a Buddhist meditation course for the past 8 weeks...And it helps. I talked a bit last time on how I've been feeling more compassion towards people and things in general. I feel that meditation has really helped me deal with my stresses no matter how minor they may seem. Even on my yoga mat I've been learning to treat myself with compassion by thinking about my stresses and sufferings on my mat. I've come to the conclusion that sometimes I fear slowing down and sometimes I fear trying new poses (especially crazy looking ones). And as much of a cliche as it is "We need to find that balance between will and surrender." We need to stay mindful and treat every challenge with acceptance and compassion.

And this is my lead-in to something that instantly made me want to write.... It was a weekend of learning about how others use compassion and mindfulness to over come, what seem to me, great challenges in life. The first such instance came on Saturday when Adele's friend Lara sent her a video that we watched. I've posted the link here so you can watch and be inspired by someone elses courage. The video was about a small baby (Eliot) that was born with major health complications. Eliot was not even expected to make it through childbirth. Instead of being so overwhelmed by this challenge that they would complain and give up, the parents treated every second that their son was alive as a miracle. They accepted their child's condition not as a challenge but as opprotunity to be with him every day he was alive. I was on the verge of tears wathcing this video.

The second instance was Saturday night while watching Gandhi (the movie). I'd never seen Gandhi or really knew too much about his struggles in this life. It was truly an inspiring telling of his life. A man that saw injustice and needed in his heart to stand an fight...but without violence!! BRAVO!! What a true hero to mankind. A selfless man who mealry wanted equality for his fellow man. And was willing to stand-up to any challenge with compassion. This movie also brought me to the verge of tears...compassion filled tears.

This weekend was a great inspiration to me and really brings home what I am learning in Buddhist Meditation... That my meditations be cause to help end the suffering of not only myself but those around me. Whether I only effect one or many I try to live in this compassionate state. And whether you follow the teachings of Buddha or Christ or Vedantic traditions... they all teach the same thing... We are all brothers and sisters of this vast universe... We are all someones Mother or Father, Son or Daughter.
I meet the challenge of treating everyone as my sister or brother with compassionate open arms and not aversion.
this is the video!!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This Is Not A Lamp!! WTF!!

So how right was Bob Dylan when he said, "These times they are a changin'."
Super right!!!

He could not have been more true than right now in time. So many things are changing
at this time.... Not only are the leaves changing from a deep green to those beautiful shades of
of red, yellow and burgendy but so much more than that.
In Canada we recently had an election for our Prime Minister (and even though it's the same dude as last time). This election was a record low for voter turn out at a whopping 54%...CRAZY!! Is it that people don't care about who's running the show or are we all just fed up with the same political bullshit. All the promises that fall by the way side once a person is elected...All the new taxes that seep out of our wages to support this and that when really the money goes toward taking a limo to the corner store. Needless to say I was disappointed when I heard that the turn out was so poor. But on a higher, more resonant note, the Green Party (for whom I voted) had the highest record of votes in their party's history. Which tells me that people are definitely taking the importance of the environment more seriously. So that's the politics portion.

Hhhhmmmmm...what else is changing...oh wait...just my perception of reality!!!
I have been taking a Buddhist Meditation course for the past 8 weeks at the Samudra Buddhist Temple in my city of Hamilton. It is truly a Lotus springing out of the mud (it's in a not so good area of town-but sorely needed). This part of my journey is bringing a lot of things into light. I am now questioning my self, my surroundings and everything even the kitcken sink these days. I and learned last night that there is no kitchen sink....WTF!!! I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that one. I find myself with more clarity. I find myself in the witness more these days, especially when it comes to my reactions toward people and certain scenarios. I'm not so reactive in traffic, I'm not so put down by bad weather and the most amazing thing is that I'm not so angered by people that I would usually find Uber-irritating. Let's give it up for MEDITATION!!! Oh and I was way less reactive when I tried to write a blog the other day and as soon as I got to the end something crashed and the entry was lost...but it lead the way for this entry!!

Things in this world are getting crazy people...are you ready handle it...calmly?
If you're not and you're interested in preparing check out this website It has some great insight!!
If the goal of life is to love (truly love)...Yoga will help us to get there.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

For show...but still!!

So here I am again, having not posted in more than a month and asking myself why I even do this...!?!? But never the less, I love to write when I am inspired to. And let me tell you, last Sunday I was deeply inspired. My wonderful partner, Adele and I, have been having an amazing Summer... We've gone camping a few times, went to art exhibits, walked the streets of Toronto and Montreal and last weekend we saw the beautiful show that is Cirque De Soleil. The name of the show was Saltimbanco (which is one of the original shows). HOLY SHIT!!!! That stuff is crazy. So many fantastically talented people who really excel in their chosen field. There were gymnasts, dancers, clowns, actors, singers and athletes of all kinds. The show was without a doubt the most visually stunning display that I have ever seen.

This also brings up a point that I'd like to address. When I told my teacher that I was going to see Cirque we had a great conversation about how beautiful the show is and how visually impressive it is to see such control of the body. We talked about how watching that can really inspire a Yoga practice. And how when you see these things it makes you realize that some of the poses that we think are physically out of our reach can really be possible. Then she brought up the point that it's all for show... And yes obviously it's all for show!!! I paid $70 to see it!!But still...

These people might not be getting into Cirque to connect with their "True Self" but you really have to admire the Tapas and discipline that it takes to get to that level. I personally think that even though these things are done for performance, some of the same "Yoga rules" still apply. It takes quite a bit of physical awareness and concentration to do a single arm handstand on another persons head. I've never been in that kind of situation to tell you if the breath is involved...but I can assume that it is. Even if it's not being used as a vehicle to personal and universal enlightenment, somewhere in there is some sort of realization. I'm also assuming that, at some point, these performers have had to leave their ego's in the dressing room and just "show up" to the performance.
So as Yogis, we should never just play these things off as just being for show... we are all putting the same amount of energy into it. Some people just choose to put their energy into different places. But in the reality of it all...if they didn't do what they do (and perfectly too) I wouldn't have had an amazing show to watch and wouldn't have been inspired to write this post or I wouldn't have had the realization that it might just be possible to transition from Bakasana to Handstand with a little Tapas and an open mind.
Namaste...shanti...shanti...shanti was a girl....Samantha Page Overholt...good job sis!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Am My Own own guru

Since my inception to Yoga some year and a bit ago I have grown...and then shrunk...and then I have grown again. These are the stages of our lives. We go through periods of ups and downs... we all know this. In this past year I have found myself enlightened (even if slightly) and then just as confused by Yoga. At times my practice is clear and concise. I'm consistent with my asana practice. I practice my meditation 3-4 days a week. I do breath work on a regular basis. And then there are times when I find myself making excuses not to step onto my mat. I am easily distracted away from my meditative state. And while practicing my Kapala Bhati, breath is the furthest thing from my mind.

I am currently working through a really amazing book that is helping to put my practice into a wide screen, director's cut kind of view. Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates has been a hand reaching through the muck to help me out of some deep muddy pits. The book consists of 365 essays meant to be read day by day. Unfortunately I find my self not always with time to read a chapter so I opt for reading as much as I can, when I can. It's a wicked book full of so much insight. It deals with Rolf's insight on the Yamas and Niyamas as it has related to situations and scenarios in his own life. Simple fact is, is that we all go through some of the same types of situations. And having a book of stories about how one man has dealt with his life stresses is great as a reference for someone like me, on this path of Yoga.

I recently read chapter 44 which talks about "Right Action". Gates talks of his plans to meet with a financial planner but just kept putting it off. He finally takes this "Right Action" and wastes no more time getting his finances into balance. He says that, "It's about our actions and not our good intentions. If we want self-esteem, we must do estimable things." He goes on to say that we must not wait for that "feeling-good" momentum to start our "Right Action". "If you want to meditate, staple your butt to the cushion; sooner or later your mind will quiet down." What great advice.

Since reading this I have found myself lifted up once more out of the mud. I taught my first workshop Yesterday... and it felt amazing. I had a great turn-out, mostly beginners. The 3 hour workshop focused on breaking down the movements of the Ashtanga Sun Salutations A & B and then stringing the movements together into the beautiful dance that is Surya Namaskar. I spent an hour just teaching Ujjayi Pranayama until everyone in the room felt pretty comfortable...and then we began!! I love teaching... I always have.

When I started to get really good at the drums and people asked me about what I knew, I would graciously share my experiences and knowledge. When I started to become very proficient at weight training people in the gym would always ask me about my workouts...and once again I was more than willing to help and teach technique and focus. Now that it comes to Yoga I find myself always answering questions from students and non-students. I could go on for hours answering these inquiries. And knowing that I don't have the answer all the time.

This is where chapter 44 comes in...right action...I love to learn and it's time to take right action...I have decided that learning and teaching Yoga is my calling...I feel a deep resonance with this path in life. No matter the ups or downs...Yoga is there...Yoga is consistently bringing me back up and reminding me of my capabilities. It helps bring me back to my mat, back to my Zafu and back to my breath. It helps bring me back into my relationships and helps take me out of my ego.

All right...time for some more Right Action!! Time to go work Jump Throughs!!

"Take up space, be grand, act great!"
-Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat; pg59

I'd like to dedicate this entry to my new niece or nephew... not sure until tomorrow!!


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

i free like child

*this is an excerpt from a shpeel that I used for class on Wed. June 25th*

Today's class is about having fun... And I don't say that as to imply that we don't have fun here... It's all about the play... It's all about coming here and hangin' out with each other... We come... We do some poses... We stretch... We laugh... We breathe... You come here every Wednesday... And the great thing is that you commit yourself to coming... You make the commitment to show up and sometimes that's the hardest part... To show up. You commit yourself to taking time out of life's busy nature... To taking time to play!!!

It's all about getting that feeling back... It's about getting back that awareness...

Just think, for a second, about the life of a child... Perhaps even your own child... Or maybe a niece or nephew... Possibly a friends child just to cover all the bases!
These children that possess unbound awareness in everything that they see, hear, touch, smell, taste... Everything is new... Every moment, every second, every breath is a learning experience... Somewhere along the way most of us lose that connection to awareness... We play everything off like we've seen it before... We lose that ability to treat every moment as a chance to learn something new.

And this is one of the wonders of Yoga... It's purpose is to reconnect us with that awareness... To help us smell every scent, hear every sound, see every sight and really take the time to breathe and appreciate every breath... And as we get more connected to awareness we allow ourselves to play freely without fear... Without a sense of foolishness... Being mindful and deeply rooted in our practice but allowing ourselves to "Play the edge" just a little bit... Be like a child. Willing to step near the edge and play. Flirt with the unknown momentarily.

It's about trying to get as close as possible to that line that separates Will and Surrender... Having the willingness to try and do these poses... Having the willingness to really challenge your physical body, the willingness to challenge your "mental" by staying connected to the practice and to the breath... But, at the same time, being able to surrender the body and the mind... Surrender to the possibilities of not only Yoga itself but more importantly surrender your body and mind to the possibilities of You... The endless nature of your capabilities...

Once we can play at the edge without fear of possibilities...without fear of outcome... by surrendering all of our efforts to something higher than our need to succeed... once we can let go... childlike freedom is ours!!!

So I invite you children of young and old.... PLAY!!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Yoga Challenge!!

There is true dichotomy in this force we call Yoga...the dichotomy of balance. The balance between effort and surrender within the Asanas (poses). The balance of your inhalations and exhalations, as you breathe through effort and into surrender. And, of the utmost importance is the equanimity of knowing when to step up to the challenge (whether on or off your mat) and when to stand down...

It's almost like the song The Gambler by Kenny Rogers...and it's true...You gotta know when to hold 'em or know when to fold 'em.........

So today, I pose to you a challenge. And it's not just a challenge of the body (no Headstands for 100 breaths) but also a challenge of the mind...

All of this, knowing when to step up and knowing when to take a's all there inside's called intuition. It is the unexplainable energy that fuels us... It is the unmistakable feeling that in the present time, you know exactly what is right for you to do in that precise moment...You handle the situation breath by breath...

And this is what Yoga is. Yoga is knowing (through experience) and doing what's right for you... Yoga is about getting to know...reeeeally know...Yourself. Getting to know yourself so well, in fact, that you can intuit every situation... So that you can live your life knowing what to do and when to do it but also what not to do and when to let go.

So your challenge (for anyone who might read this....Really only Adele reads this!!) is to honour yourself today...Honour everything about yourself...Honour everything you like...everything you don't like...every bit of muscle and every bit of fat...every Asana that you find freedom in and every Asana that you hate and struggle with...Honour every thought about your baby niece and every thought about that person that cut you off in traffic...Honour your body and honour your mind..... what's the best way....breathe and accept!!!


Sunday, April 27, 2008

His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama...Here's lookin' at you!!

I try to live my life based on the honour system. I believe that most people are good people unless they prove otherwise. I think that the world and its inhabitants have immeasurable potential to make the universe a more beautiful place to reside. But man do I ever get pissed sometimes when people really prove me wrong. I know I shouldn't let it get to me but sometimes this world seems so far gone that it appears next to impossible to pull our species back up to the shore.

I'm sure everyone has heard of the recent riots in Tibet and that the outcome of these riots is the possible resignation of his holiness the Dalai Lama, as the Leader striving for the freedom of his home land.

How far does a man need to be pushed before he resigns as the leader of freedom and peace for his homeland. Hu Jintao, President of the Peoples Republic of China, claimed that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was directly responsible for the recent protests. Now explain this to me, when China is now based on democracy and freedom how can it lead a battle against the people of Tibet and oppose their freedom for religion when it is promised by their constitution. These days honesty is still here but very fuzzy to the eyes.

I hope that the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government work out their differences...But if the Dalai Lama is made to step down then he was made, not only to stand up for us as humans and humanitarians, but to bow down from his post as Tibets freedom fighter...the world will go on turning and the Dalai Lama will continue to love and fight for compassion.

On another note...
Earth day has just past and I for one, with my new introductory to Yoga, am feeling more compassion for my planet than ever before, in he history of me. I believe in the choices that Adele and I are making to help us and to help repay the tab that we've rackin' up with Mother Earth.

This is gonna be a crazy year kids. We're gonna see some crazy shit go down soon.
But we're ready for it...There are a large number of us who know that life does go on...In the face of pure joy and pure sorrow...birds will sing and the sun will rise...clouds will come and go in this world and in the next...It is you and I that are infinite energy!!!


Monday, March 10, 2008

Teacher Teach Me!!

I think that we've all been in those relationships that leave that little bit of negative residue. When you've been with someone for a while, whether it be 1 month to 5 years, and things don't quite work out you get some attitudes toward relationships, life and love.

I have been in two previous long term relationships (even though "long term" is a relative term). I will say that I was slightly jaded by them both... When you tell someone that you love them and then what you thought was love wasn't really what you wanted it to be...It leaves scars!! And then in every relationship after those you become a little more wary about saying the "L word". You're not sure if this one will end as the last two did. So you don't want to dig yourself deeper because then it's just too hard to pull yourself back up to level ground if it doesn't work out.

Admitedly I was a little wary when Adele and I first started getting serious... But by the way side go all inhibitions. I've told myself that I will never compare this relationship to past relationships. This is new!! Every moment is its own!! And that is how I treat this thing called love now!!

I have learned somethings over the years...1. Never stay in a relationship just because it feels comfortable and routine!! and 2. Don't be afraid to do things just because you've had some negative experiences!!

That being said....Adele and I just celebrated our 2 Year Anniversary together!!

What an amazing girl!! I've figured out that I can't date girls that are the opposite of me...Adele and I (although having our differnces) are essentially the same person only with different!! We balance each other!! And just when you think that love for another person has to be "this" way(because that's how you've experienced it in the past) you learn that love has no patterns, no definition and no boundary!! What I thought was love is not what I think about it now!! It's a wonderful thing!!! With its ups and downs, its twists and turns...with it's calm and stormy days.

I love Adele...with all my heart and soul...I care so deeply for what she thinks, what she says and what she is (even if I don't always make eye Del!!).

We are constantly teaching each other about each other and I am always learning new things about myself because of Adele!!

Adele...I love you so little Dellie Bear!!

You have become a part of my family (coltrane and me)!!

And like my sister says "Here's to 60 more years!!"

Spread the love people!!


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Painful circumstances...a door for growth!!

I've seen Tibetan monks before getting speared in the neck by other monks....WOW CRAZY!!
It's amazing how one man can stand his ground and stay calm while 4 other dudes are pushing a spear into his throat. I always wondered how someone remains so still in such circumstances.
This past weekend I put myself in that position.

First off, I will say that I love the art of tattooing. And it really is an art like no other. Its amazing what kind of pieces can be created with a tattoo gun these days.

I have loved and been slightly obsessed with tattoos since the age of 8. My father had a friend that he worked with who had a large dragon tattoo on his back. One day when I was 8 I went out our back door to go for a swim in da pool when I was AW struck by a beautiful sight. A brilliantly large piece of body art. Since that day I knew that I was destined to be part of the body modification community. Almost every year since that day I have begged my mother to get a tattoo.

Funny part is, I didn't get my first tat until I was 21. I made a deal with my mom that I could get pierced but I couldn't get a tattoo until my 21st birthday. Well I held true to that deal. I did get quite a few holes stabbed into my body but I held off on the body art. For my 21st birthday my parents (being the amazing people that they are) paid for me to go to New York City. I went down with the intention of going to the NYC Tattoo convention at the Roseland Ballroom to get my first (of many) tattoo.

I'd like to just say that I'm glad I waited or I would have gotten something stupid tattooed
on my person.

I ended up getting some Kanji on my inner arms that say "Beyond Language" which for me represents what drumming means to well as what the Kanji means to me.

This past weekend I added to my ongoing collection with a new 3/4 sleeve on my right arm. The image is of a traditional Japanese warrior in a plain kimono. It's a night scene and he's holding a large lantern with falling Japanese Maple leaves all around!! Yeah...I know!!!! WICKED!!!

Six hours under the gun. Six hours of potential growth. How did I manage? YOGA!!! I used my breath to calm me down. I've found that recently, when faced with extenuating circumstances, that I can use my Yoga to keep me in the moment. Whether it be dealing with getting thousands of timy needles jammed into my skin for 6 hours or even just being out in the cold pumping my gas. The breath is a powerful thing if we can learn to harness it. For the tattoo I just kept my eyes closed and concentrated on taking deep and full breathes. Crazy enough...That shit works!!

Is there anything that Yoga can't do???

I think a lot of the process is just giving in to the situation. I knew that, no matter what, I was there until the outline was done. As soon as I came to terms with that I found that I became very centered and calm. It wasn't until around the last hour (when I knew I was almost done) that I started to get "antsy" and had a hard time centering. I also think that my body couldn't really take much more trauma.

All in all it was an enriching experience and the end definitely justified the means.

The power of Yoga never ceases to amaze me.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

"This will go well with my adversity!" - Theo Huxtable

Have you ever seen that episode of the Cosby Show when Theo comes home from college to raid Cliff and Claire's fridge. There is a conversation about the adversity for a college student and Theo pulls some sauce (which resembles shrimp sauce) and says...see Blog title.

As Yogis, we get a lot of flack!! Flack manifesting in comments, looks and just general attitudes toward us. We are taking the path less travelled ...and even though there have been thousands and thousands of people that macheted the path before us there are still some rough patches and thorns. I recently got a set of Mala beads, which I wear around my wrist with pride (but not bad pride). But looks, one really understands...but if I were to wear Rosery beads..that would be handy dandy with everyone.

Although sometimes the jokes are all in good fun...(for instance one of my co-workers calls me Karma-man!!) Sometimes it's just ignorance on their part. As we Yogis know Avidya (ignorance) is the root cause of all sorrow and all afflictions. The question is, how do you educate? I think, most times its just better to let comments roll off like rain. Some people don't want to be educated and I'm not gonna preach because preaching is not my styles. I will sing the praises of Yoga straight through to my next life but I will not preach to people about Yoga.

I will, however, tell people not to knock it until they try it. It's a powerful thing and you just need to get through some of the stigmas related to Yoga. My co-worker (previously mentioned) thinks that Yoga is for girls. One of my favourite retaliations is to say, "While you're hangin' out with a bunch of sweaty dudes at the gym I'll be hangin' out with the pretty girls doing Yoga."

I feel great when I see another guy in Yoga class. My Ashtanga class is full of's awesome to see the dudes openning their minds about Yoga. Even the basic Hatha classes that I teach are attracting the gentlmen (mostly because their female counterparts drag them to class) because once they realize that it actually can be quite demading they gain a whole new respect for the practice. And then it leads, like it did for me, to greater awareness. Even if that awareness come in just a physical aspect...It's awareness non-the-less.

So if you happen to read this Blog and you have not tried Yoga before or maybe you're from a certain lineage of Yoga and are interested in another...Just F-in do it!!! Yoga has something to offer everyone...And I mean everyone.


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Patanjali-Shmamjali...and yet!!

Can I feel the subtleties of this world....?
I think so.
I know that I am swinging.
From tree to tree only because I can't
commit to just one.
From prakrti to self
my "I"
The mountain in me, the warrior...
The sky that is me
the clouds my personality.
Man, son, uncle, partner
My pride in these roles
But under under...soul!

by Steven Ferrell

Sometimes it all depends on how much energy and time and patience we have in ourselves. Some folks just don't care. This is when we have our mid life crises'. Our Corvettes and young girlfriends or our young stud boy toy. Our nervous break downs. The reason for this is..."Who am I?"
The man of older age wants so much to retain that physicality and freedom of older adolescence. The woman is eager to retain youth and knowing that she can still reel them in.

If you put time into knowing who you are or at least thinking about it from time to time something will come of it...Study yourself...You are the most interesting subject. You are the most amazing experiment.

"Who am I?"
It's a viable q
uestion. There is no need to be embarassed by wanting to know yourself...In all your bold and sometimes bloody truth.

Yesterday I chanted!! But it was different. I've said before that I love chanting...There's just something about it (possibly to do with musical interest...I haven't studied long enough). This time I had a plan for this chanting session. I was at work at the Personal Training studio. I got 54 coins (some pennies and some dimes) from the front desk and put them in a white cup (used for holding paperclips or maybe an earring that someone had lost). My goal was to chant "OM" 54 times. No biggie. I've done it before. Today I would do it in a public place. This was my challenge.

In Ashtanga you really sometimes put it all on the line. Some of the poses take some courage and a lot of patience. I wanted to put my spirit to the test. Could I whole heartedly, with conviction and honesty, chant my praises for this universe aloud?

I began my practice that day by going through full primary series which always gives me a beautiful feeling inside. It's comparable to when you look at someone that you love.. but they don't know that you're looking at them and it just makes you smile! I finished Headstand and Badha Padmasana and took a comfortable seated position. I placed my hands in Jnana mudra on my knees. I began to chant.

There were not a lot of people in the studio at the time... really just me in one room and Karen working at the front desk. It felt good. At first my heart was very audible to me...I could feel the slight nervousness in my finger tips. I soon settled in , finding a consistent tone. Then..............I heard the door of the studio open (it makes that electronic chiming sound) My thoughts were instantly swayed and I suddenly turned down the volume on my chants. I kept chanting a little more quietly.

Then it happened...I came to terms with the situation..."They can already hear me." They know that I'm here." They know what I'm doing (maybe)." "Just fucking do it!!!" So I did. I pumped up the damn volume on my stereo. And with booming sound in a hollow room ..... "AAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUMMMMMMMMMM" It was glorious. I remember a time in my teacher training when we all chanted OM together for 10 minutes...everyone chanting in their own distinct way and in no particular rhythm. It felt powerful. This felt the same way, but instead of having the support of like minds around me it was just my mind. It was my inner power and my inner support.

Admittedly my confidence was swaggered a few more times. And when my ego and my head got in the way, a voice would shout "Just fucking do it!!!" pardon le francais... like an R rated Nike commercial.

But I did it... It feels good. Somethings take courage. Sometimes we have to wait until things and scenarios are in the opposite spectrum of where we want them to be. Sometimes the feelings have to be so absolutely unbearable before we take action.

I knew I had to do this...I knew this had to happen!!

Funny thing was that when I told Adele I chanted at work...she instantly knew why. She knows me so well!!


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

More Work Than It's Worth?

So I really am a new Yogi!! I have questions and sometimes don't no where to find the answers...Will it really come to me if I put it out there? As a Pitta, is the Ashtanga practice good for me or could it be hurtful? I heard that no matter what, stick with your practice. If I have an injury should I rest it or keep doing my practice but at a less intense level? Sometimes this Yoga thing is confusing!!!!!

I am a very internal person. Any of my stresses and worries are very well hidden. Maybe acting in highschool has had a role to play. I'm not the kind of person that wears his heart on his sleeve...I keep things inside and I am very good at hiding my internal reactions. Or maybe I've always been good at dealing with my problems. I don't get stressed out much... I can literally count on one hand the number of times that I've been seriously enraged. My moto was always "Deal with it and move on!" And yet I used to run and re-run scenario upon scenario in my mind ad nausium. Since I've found Yoga (or Yoga found me) I've been able to really keep my mind from running away with itself. Thank you Yoga!!!

I know that this process and journey is not a fast acting relief like Reactine. I remember a quote from David Swenson that basically said, "Don't think of this journey as taking days, weeks or months. Think of it as years, decades and lifetimes." I use this to help cultivate patience and compassion for myeslf and my surroundings. This is a continuous journey... a lengthly journey...but a worth while journey. And I've got a great partner, Adele, to help along the way!!

When the end goal is pure knowledge of my True Self, long and healthy relationships and a greater appreciation of the universe, what other journey is there?!?!?

Im glad I got that off my mind!!


Saturday, February 2, 2008

To Breathe Or Not to Breathe

(deep inhalation)

I offer my inhalation up to the controlling force of my exhalation,

(deep, smooth exhalation)

I offer my exhalation
up to the controlling force of my inhalation.

This is our essence...our breath... our innate connection to our true self. And yet this is the furthest thing from our minds these days. Our h
eads are being consumed. Consumed by more things that can make you go faster...Consumed by more things that can give you more time (to spend doing what?)...Fast cars, fast food, fast cash and even what seems to be, fast Yoga.

I'm not sure who said this but I heard a quote once that said, "Yoga without intention or breath is mere gymnastics." Admittedly I find myself distracted in class but somehow I manage to re-connect.

Recently I was reading another Blog that was talking about the "Yoga Olympics". Where is the intention there? (And put on by, non other than Bikram, a well established Yoga Association). (I stay responsive and not reactive) What a trivialization of Yoga!! To be put on display and be judged for something that IS about lack of judgment. What happened to "The person is not meant to conform to the pose but the pose to the person." This whole Yoga competition thing just seems a little elitist!!

"Oh sorry Jeff, you're not the best Yogi because your back leg was a little bent in your first Virabhadrasana I...and your Savasana wasn't quite...still enough."

I walk around my class sometimes and think that this persons pose doesn't look like the cover of the Yoga Journal or how I think the pose should be. Then I remember when I started (and not long ago), how awkward, I'm sure, I looked in Triangle for the first 50 times. And the great thing was that my teachers all told me that Yoga is not just the poses. These poses are a tool to be used on the journey...not signify the journey!!

These poses are here to teach us about ourself and about life and about the universe...What does the Yoga Olympics teach us.

So I sit and I breath. And I know that sometimes this is what Yoga is. Sometimes when I read the Baghavad Gita or the Yoga Sutras, this is what Yoga is. When I walk in the park with Adele and we catch each others glance, hear each others breath and feel how in love we are...this is Yoga. When I hug my Mom, Dad, Sister (and the little bundle in her belly), Brother, my niece (Emma) and my nephew (Zachery) and feel completely supported...this is Yoga. Oh and I can hold Sirsasana for 20 breaths now...That shit is definitely Yoga!! HA!!


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Change In the House of Flies

So just to start...Primary Series was the shit last night!!!! Sometimes I wonder if the phrase "the shit" is translatable into Sanskrit!! I hear a new tattoo idea...Ha!!
But seriously (eyebrows drop), primary is spectacular. So refreshing, so detoxifying. I'm actually dealing with slight sciatic irritation and an SI joint issue right now. It's really helping my practice a lot. Cultivating Ahimsa comes truly shining through and helps to balance my Pitta. Although it is difficult trying to undue 28 years of conditioning in less than a year... patience, contentment...I am where I am no where to go but here. aaahhhhhh....

A friend of mine said to me the other night (we were chillin' the other night watching skateboarding videos and chatting) that when her Dad always asks her what time it is, she says..."Right now!!"
That is awesome...Truer words were never spoken!! I told her that I'm stealing it. When you are living moment to moment, the time is NOW!! That is one of the reasons that I like righting this Blog. It's a spontaneous action at this point...I just feel as though I have some thoughts that I'm connecting with and I want to get them out. (sigh) Aaahhhh life.

So now for my intention for this say that people are wonderful!! Certainly in this world there are personality conflicts happening all around us. But when you truly make a connection or difference in this world it feels spectacular. Not necessarily because you were the cause or had some part in this glorious moment but because it makes you feel happy to see someone else so happy. It's like that feeling of warmth when you see two people in love. You think to yourself "Good for them for finding love!!" I feel that way about Adele and me...she is amazing!! I won't go on saying all the cliched things that I could say about her... but she is all of them.

In particular, one of the women in my class today (which was my first class as a certified Yoga Teacher) is wonderful. She said that she has finally realized that she loves herself for the first time. "Good for her for finding love!!" Nothing is more important than a love for yourself. To actually love who you are and where you're headed. She knows now that she needs not please everyone around at the sake of hating herself.

Haaaaaa!! It's funny how coincidences work....I just remembered that this was actually the intention set for last nights Primary Series....My's blowing....steaming!!!

Being a part of this thing called Yoga is outstanding...this enigmatic beauty that is the means and the end...the journey and the destination...This shit does still blow my mind sometimes!!! As it probably will for lifetimes to come.

To all...enjoy life...enjoy love...bask in them both...they are the same source of light.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

99% Practice, 1% Theory

Tonight...7:15 pm...Primary Series!!!

For those of you who are not familiar with Primary Series, it is a sequence of poses from the Ashtanga Yoga practice. I am in love with Ashtanga.

I am in love with all styles of Yoga but Ashtanga really speaks to me....Perhaps it is because my natural Ayurvedic constitution is Pitta...But there's more to it than that.

It is a beautiful practice (not only to do but to watch)!! It is so fluid, so meaningful, so expressive...and it resonates with every piece of my soul. I have actually only been doing Ashtanga Yoga for maybe 6 months...My Yoga experience is actually not even a year yet.

I can't deny it's effect on me...Coming from a weight training back ground I feel that one of the drawing factors is that it is such a physically demanding practice. But it is mentally demanding!!

It makes you keep your cool and calm down in the face of difficult situations. I remember when I first tried Primary Series. I had recently joined a new studio (not really knowing anything about the Ashtanga practice other than that Bryan Kest DVD that I bought on Amazon). I walked into class @ De La Sol and set up my mat, when the man beside me (who has actually become a friend) said, "You know this is Primary Series right?" I replied, "Yes!!" (Not even knowing what the hell Primary even was). He continues with, "This is a level 3 class you know?" I saw that on the schedule but had no idea what to expect. I was in for the shock of my life. I've been hooked ever since.

A lot of people ask, "Isn't Ashtanga just about the poses?" God NO!!!!! Like any Yoga... there is the breath, the surrender of effort to spirit, the relaxation and the philosophy behind it.

It's just that rather than holding poses for extended periods of time you move through the Primary poses in a systematic and slightly faster way. At the beginning of class there is still an invocation (to pay tribute to all Yogis who have paved the way and to seer Patanjali) and there is still surrendering at the end.

However, Ashtanga does tend to draw in very athletic types that think of it as nothing but a work out... and that's cool too. They'll probably find out for themselves (as I did) that there is more to the style than just sweating and breathing. Ashtanga is meditation in movement.

Seane Corn said that Ashtanga is actually very ritualistic...From the way you breath to the way you position your hands (like a beautifully performed tea drinking ceremony). The whole practice becomes an offering to Spirit. Effort soon becomes effortless. That's what I'm beginning to realize.

I do however love going to other types of classes. Heather Greaves, who was my Teacher Trainer, comes from a Kundalini background and I've come to love that practice as well.

I love chanting!!!! For some reason chanting really resonates with me as well!!! Give me a few rounds of the Gayatri any day.

And every now and again when I feel that I need some relaxation, and a less physical practice, I'll do a more restorative practice. I was once told that a sadhaka (student) should pick one particular practice and stick with it. I don't necessarily agree with that. I feel that every type of Yoga from Pre-natal to Anusara to Kundalini to Iyengar all have something wonderful to offer.
And as a Yoga Teacher, having so many sources to draw from is amazing.

I will say this...Yoga has something for everyone!!

The wonderful thing is that the world is finally realizing it
(I'm glad that it didn't take me that long).


Monday, January 28, 2008

Another Day At the Office

Monday, Monday, Monday!!!

For most, one of the worst days of the week...

Back to work, back to school, back to a schedule,

back to workin' for da Man!!!

I'm not really excited to be going back to work... I'm not jumping up and down or planning a huge fireworks display in celebration of a new work week. I do sometimes follow the "LoverBoy" ideal..."Everybody's workin' for the weekend!!" But I do love my job!!!

I am a personal trainer by career and also a new Yoga Teacher (having just completed my first of many Yoga Teacher Trainings).

I was admittedly lost for a while. When I got out of Highschool I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life...Video game tester wasn't really an option. I ended up applying to 4 different colleges for 4 different things (mostly art realated). When it came time to decide I realized that I didn't want to do any of them. Soooo, like any other average dude in my area, I got a job in a factory. As much as I ended up hating my life for a couple years b/c of the job it really did lead me to my first real connection with myself.

I, for lack of a better term, got sick of it!!! I got sick of going to work when it was darkand getting out of work when it was dark. I was sick of working my ass off and only getting comments from my supervisor when I was messing up (never praise for my hard work).

It was at that time that I took my first step towards FREEDOM. I went back to school.

I chose to follow my passion and go to school for music (I'm a drummer by nature) because it was the only thing that had remained a constant joy of my life. I didn't get full support right away(sorry Mom...I just don't like working with computers) but my parents eventually saw how happy I was and helped me a lot in the end.

When you get out of music school you basically have 3 options...1.Starving musician. 2.Music as a side job. or 3.Teaching lessons full time and gigging on the side. Non of these options appealed to me. That, in turn, led me to think "What else do I really like to do?" Hey I like to work-out. And I've always had fun helping my friends at the gym. Giving advice and making training programs!!

So I became a Personal Trainer...which then lead me to Yoga....Funny thing...I don't even really touch weights anymore...What a great chain of events!!!

For anyone that reads these Blog entries....I have a tendeny to go off on tangents...But its all relavent.

Anyway, back to Mondays. I seriously feel that work is one of the best places to cultivate the Yogic values that I've been studying and implementing. I believe that I was meant to work where I do so that I could deal with the obstacles that have layed in path for years. I have never really handled high-strung people very well...I just wouldn't even waste my time with them.

My boss is the Webster's definition of high-strung. He is wound so tight that he might spontaeously combust at any moment. Excessive Vata and Pitta....EXCESSIVE!!!

He has really helped me to go inside myself and teach myself that there is no such thing as stressors...Its all in how you respond to it. Before I would go out of my way to avoid him so that I didn't get stressed out. Now...I breath...stay calm...he is who he is...I am who I am...I have 2 choices...stay and deal with it or quit my job. I chose "Calm".

Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha!!

All come into play in day to day life....for those of you not familiar with the above Sanskrit terms,

Go to Google and type in Yamas.

We are faced with many things through out the day...

How do you deal with them?

I use Yoga!!!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Day I Tried To Live

I remember watching the Cosby Show as a kid. I used to love that show. I wasn't exactly sure why. But it seemed as though they were the coolest family on television. Every week a new story, a new joke and a new guest Jazz musician...being that Bill Cosby, not only a great spokes person for Kodak and Jell-o pudding, was also a famous Jazz producer. From time to time I hear a song on the radio or somewhere else and I associate it with the Cosby show. For instance, I was downloading some James Brown lately and I heard "Night and Day" and was transported back to the episode where the Huxtable clan celebrated Cliffs parents anniversary by lip syncing to this song. The memory is an amazing thing.

My girlfriend of nearly two years, Adele, is directly responsible for,
not only introducing me to Yoga, but also influenced my decision to write a Blog. She has recently started to right a brilliant blog called No Way Au Lait. Her stories of food and fun and all Dairy free. It is in her that I find undying compassion. I find unyielding support. She has supported my decision to become a Yoga Teacher and also supports my journey as a novice Yogi, trying to make sense out of the world. But I love that I am trying to make sense of it all and not just lagging by on the ride to who knows where.

Which brings me back to the Cosby story. (tangent: I think one of the funniest episodes was when the whole family tried to teach Theo about living in the "real world" so they pretended to be other people...Rudy was Mrs. Farnzworth, the banker. I laugh just thinking about it.). There was an episode that had a guest appearance by Jazz Vocalist Lena Horne. She sang these words "In this world of ordinary people, extra-ordinary people...I'm glad there is you. In this world of over rated pleasures, and under rated treasures...I'm glad there is you."

This first Blog entry is my dedication to Adele. They say that you are meant to meet people so that they may teach you something that you needed to know about yourself. Adele has not only taught me my way around a kitchen, but she has taught me that every time I say "I love you!" that I should mean it. She has also taught me that Love is not what I once thought it was...It's better!!

This is a Blog of My journey. A journey that happens moment by moment, breath by breath. This is the Blog of The ifree Yogi.

-Picture yourself as the sky... Of a brilliant shade of blue...From time to time in this spacious sky there are cloud formations...These clouds, consistantly passing...These clouds however slight or however large...However light and fluffy or however dark and ominous...these clouds do not make up the sky...We all know that when the clouds are gone there is always a crystal blue sky just waiting to be discovered again!!
We are all crystal blue and perfect.... just waiting to be discovered.