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 me....as 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, comments...no 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 guys...it'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 purusha...my 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)...bing. 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!!