Yoga will not be televised, its moves are not dictated by chart, table, or graph; yoga will not whiten your teeth, but you will be astonished in moments of fluid inspiration, and the deep breaths you take will sustain apprehension of a true presence at once ecstatic and sublime.… read more...
Published by Yogi Times, April 2017, as “9 Ways To Return Yoga’s Gift”
Yoga gives each of us more than we can repay. It’s the reason we continue our practice and make it a long-term life discipline. Yoga creates new space and provides the impetus for us to search for our true self. It has our backs and has fixed our spines.
Yoga balances our perceptions and teaches us to look to the horizon even when we resist and find it would be easier to look down and fall flat upon the mark of our diminished vision.
Yoga levels our judgments to a place of calm detachment; but also fills us with courage to say and do the right thing (on and off the mat) as often as we can. Yoga moves us to meet, greet, and bow to worlds upon worlds, and that is why those of us practicing yearn to find our limits, breathe deep to fully inherit the spiritual science of health, and release everything into the realm of OHM.
What do you give to yoga?
Every yogi answers in their own way, but here’s one yogis answer:
I give my pain.
Perhaps it’s a surprising answer, and this is open to misinterpretation. But yes, I give yoga pain. I know the pain I need to release, and I know from experience that yoga will keep teaching me how to release it. It’s a pain I hold in my being, in my body, and it’s the pain I hold for the world.
I give my love for family and friends.… read more...
This week, Debbie and I took a four day cycle trip of close to 1000 miles. It’s not that far on a cruiser, but covering two National Parks, motoring through the Navajo, Hopi and Apache Nations while driving in high altitude with wind, smoke from forest fires, switchbacks, and snow-capped mountains in the distance was enough. With the wide disparity in temperatures hotel rooms, road conditions, and gasoline prices, there were surprises at every stop.
We visited Sedona, of course. The Grand Canyon, of course, and we stood on the corner in Winslow, Arizona. One night, I watched a Navajo woman put great attention into her small pile of scratch off games. When she talked, I saw the luminous in the dark gap between her teeth.
It’s easy to meet jokers along the way.
I met one – his name could have been Ron – who fit the bill but lacked a jesters hat. In an earlier life, he may have married his bar stool. He said, “I grew up in Amery, Wisconsin.” Amery is a town in one of 15 counties in northwest Wisconsin that since 1936 have been called Indianhead Country. The moniker was started by three Eau Claire, Wisconsin, businessmen as an inducement to tourism. When I told him I had swum in Wapogasset Lake, just east of Amery, he darn near peed his pants. Then his memories poured forth: thee marriages, three divorces, and lifetime battles over boundaries, precious gems, and alcohol.
Navajo Rugs At the Wupatki National Monument, I read the wind is strong enough to “knock you flat.” It was a challenge to cycle through wind like that.… read more...
I had a house in Marquette, Michigan. Beautiful trees populated the five acre plot, and in time I named some of them. I found shade and solace near Ulysses, Chief, and Christmas. But my favorite was Easter.
Easter was a large maple, exploding with red leaves each fall. In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, that meant late August and September. Easter grew next to my driveway. I remember pounding a shovel through rocky ground when I buried my first dog next to Easter. Each time I passed Easter, I noticed a small mound of dirt that covered Buster’s grave.
In winter, like me, Easter was cold. Every February I thought the trees would die. On bitterly cold days and nights, Easter and the other hardwoods popped and cracked with sounds like gunshots.
In spring, with snow on the ground, I noticed tiny buds at the end of long branches.
Easter lived.… read more...
TURN CORNERS, that’s what motorcyclist’s do. And they do it with style.
In our rider training and teaching, we learn the importance of cornering with skill. It takes more than simply turning the handlebar or figuring how much to lean or not lean into the curve. Cornering well as a cyclist is a potential life saving skill, and life saving skills happen with both technique and practice.
The uninitiated might think, for example, that slowing down to take a corner is important, but when a rider needs to get the most out of their tire traction it’s good if they are accelerating through the turn. Accelerating through the turn forces the full weight of the motorcycle down onto the tires which in turn make better contact with the pavement.
It’s a simple insight really, an important training tip. Sometimes on the road I see riders tend to forget the basics, approaching a turn too fast and then – suddenly realizing they carry too much speed into the curve – have to brake while turning rather than accelerate through the turn. Usually, it’s not a big deal, but it could be.
A rider’s correction only requires a little foresight, but it could be a life saver. As a cyclist, it’s good to remind ourselves that we’re on two wheels which requires twice the thinking, planning, skill and awareness of those on four wheels.
Was looking on Seattle Yoga News today for another article and found out they published this one nine months ago.… read more...
PART I. LOST
I live in Arizona, an hour from Phoenix in the East Valley. Without much effort, one can find trouble. With a little luck, one can find grace. I can take you to some isolated places where you quickly gain an understanding of both trouble and grace. Here, in the desert, seed beds of dissent and anarchist mindsets are fed and occasionally watered. These seed beds are protected by gates, locks and signs. When my partner lost her cell phone, we followed a signal from my “find phone” app that led us to such a seed bed. That’s where I first felt anxiety.
I stood at the gate and yelled hello, hello, but nobody came out to talk. I felt as though I was being observed, the hunter become the hunted. I recalled a warning from a resident, a few years ago, in the southern part of the island of Hawaii when we were talking about drug dealers living in their compounds far from roads and prying eyes. “Stay out” he said, “the cops won’t even go back there.”
Surrounded by putty colored stone and cement walls, three broken down trailers formed a small enclave behind the gate. Old boards were anchored onto the top of the wall and sticking up from these dirty boards, long rusty nails reached up to the blue sky. I stood outside the gate.
The message was clear and the signs were big:
NO TRESPASSING KEEP OUT PRIVATE PROPERTY
Three large chains wrapped around the gate poles were padlocked in the center.… read more...
By subtracting from life that which is unnecessary or unproductive, the yogi ever more clearly defines for him/herself the positive change. This is yoga’s counter-intuitive mathematic, a discovery by negation.
But for those banking on New Year’s Eve resolutions, here’s the hard truth. Tapas – the burning away – is not an overnight solution or quick path to resolution and accomplishment. It’s a matter of degree and it happens day by day.
It remakes hearts and spines by grounding the yogi deeper in self-work as they ask themselves a question sharpened wisdom in counter cultural movement and the tapas of practice, is this necessary?
In the economy of adding, subtracting and multiplying to effect change, yoga’s mathematic is Gandhian in its disciplined core, negativa in its spiritual logic and hotly shamanistic in its strategy.… read more...
Port Yonder Press / Eastern Iowa University will be publishing its third volume of lyric essays this summer. Work by two writers is now online, including my essay, “Midwest Intimations.” The other essay online, link included is, “You Will Have a Son,” by Cindy Lamothe, an expat living in Antigua. Thank you Port Yonder Press.
|Eastern Iowa Review|
Let me pry loose old walls.
Let me lift and loosen old foundations.
Beat me and hammer me into a steel spike.
Drive me into the girders that hold a skyscraper together.
Take red-hot rivets and fasten me into the central girders.
Let me be the great nail holding a skyscraper through the blue nights
into white stars.
–Carl Sandburg, 1918
The American Midwest is a great nail in my body. Its rusty gestalt formed me, and my heart pumps iron history through my arteries and veins. The Midwest broke me and made me strong. It formed my hard-edged will and chastised me with ice.
I’ve lived in Hawaii, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington. I’ve traveled to 43 of the Continental United States and motored through Spain, Korea, India, Argentina, Haiti, Germany, England, and Mexico. I’ve rubbed elbows with people in the sovereign nations. Their names drip from my tongue: Navajo, Potawatomi, Lakota, Menominee, and Ojibwa.
I’ve embraced Midwest geography; most of it is not beautiful, however, some sites rival the rugged, purple Andes of Northwest Argentina, the coast of Barcelona, and the tumbling waterfalls hidden deep in Molokai’s rainforests.
The friendliest people don’t live in the Midwest, except once in a while we are the friendliest.… read more...
The Honorable Yogi, Part I from Asana Journal, Dec. 13, 2016 at: www.asanajournal.com/the-honorable-yogi/
A Snail Teaches Yoga
YogaInspirational number 48. Asana Journal, Nov. 2016
Article at: www.asanajournal.com/?s=Finding+your+depth/
On Friday night, December 2nd, Jon Shea, Nick Hoen, and I will be playing Irish tunes at Basil in dirty ol’ Weston. The set list includes rebel standards that we played for a years, but in these last couple weeks, we’ve had good laughter while adding new tunes and songs. The lads are still the enfant terrible lads, but this time we’re a little more seasoned, a pinch more cooked, a dash more true.
We thank Jim and Tee Daly and the Basil staff for inviting us, and thank all of you who asked at the Central Wisconsin Irish Fest if the lads Magees were going to play again.
Since our last gig as a band, in August, 2012, Nick has been playing guitar nearly every weekend with Carmen Hoen in Open Tab, their husband/wife acoustic duo. They’ve also been regularly gigging with their 4 piece rock band, The Third Wheels. Nick still kicks Irish rhythm guitar in spectacular fashion.
Jon has been gigging occasionally with his fiddle playing friend Fergus, and over the last four-years, continues wooing forth the pinched reedy notes hidden deep in the sacristy of his uilleann pipes; this in addition to his excellent mandolin, whistle, and guitar playing. Jon is not like everybody else; and nobody plays like him either. Recently, he started teaching the whistle to his son Finley, and while Finley doesn’t know yet how lucky he is to have his pops teach him, someday he will.
HOW THIS STARTED 9 years ago
In December, 2007, Debbie Iozzo invited three Norwegian and German-American guys that were working on Irish songs to play them at Iozzo’s Italian restaurant in Wausau.… read more...
HOW TO CONNECT WHEN TEACHING YOGA OR ANYTHING ELSE
I love yoga, but I’m not a yoga teacher. Because of my published writing though, some people have asked me for advice, or if they should start yoga for a physical problem. I’m not qualified to give specific advice, but I tell them, Hell yes, start yoga, and I willingly share what yoga has done for me.
But I’ve learned a few things from a teaching career in higher education that spanned 26-years and four states: Wisconsin, Michigan, Hawaii, and Ohio. I’ve taught speech, writing, employment skills, English, film study, best sellers, sociology, philosophy, theology, motorcycle rider certification, and I coached youth soccer.
But this is not about me, it’s about you. This is the single best idea I’ve learned from all my teaching, presenting, giving instructions, listening to speeches, and leadership of a classrooms, meetings, or a faculty union; it’s not about me . . . ever. The working title for my speech book, currently in the hands of my agent, comes out of this learning and is the core out of which I operate. It’s called, It’s Not About You.
This is one of the hardest lessons for teachers, because while teachers are usually responsible adults, they can take upon themselves more responsibility than required. Yes, teachers are responsible for presenting content, but they are not responsible for learning, and neither are they central in the learning contract.
This is a hard lesson for teachers to hear because it requires putting the ego aside. Teachers, it’s not about you.… read more...
My daughters are nasty women. And I’m proud of them.
Nasty, as an attribute, is not the same as mean behavior. They’re not mean, but if you cross them, they will kick your ass and remove your name from their house of goodwill.
They’d prefer you not be a jackass or a gossiping pile of dung. These women, in their 20’s, are not weak. They’ll “tell-off” rude taxi drivers and they’re good with pepper spray. Nastiness does not preclude occasional vulnerability or weakness, but that’s not their normal state.
For the record, here’s what I know about nasty women: they’re intelligent and acute critics of life and society; they’re people of strength and tenderness, capable of simultaneously holding antitheses strongly marked. Both of them can run for miles, lift weights or sew the most delicate stitch into pattern or time. They easily identify bear scat in the woods and can haul and stack wood for hours. When they put their minds to a goal, they will work to the bone to achieve it
They’re kind and grounded, capable of measured judgment and unending forgiveness. These women are nasty – I guess.
Go for it if you want to label them.
I’m their pop and I admire and love them. I’m impressed as they stand on their own and exert their strong will day after day in the struggle. I praise their rejection of over-responsibility, saying no to taking care of more than necessary. They do not coddle or cotton to the patriarchal curse of holding their tongue, and though it’s hard, they refuse to let the economic meat grinder chew them up.… read more...
This article (yogainspirational #46) from September is not yet online, but in the print version of Asana Journal, available at http://www.asanajournal.com. To read it, click on each photo. Articles in the magazine are excellent and informative for beginner or advanced practitioner. I took photos of these two bridges on my travels through Upper Michigan this summer. The first one made of concrete connects US 550 and crosses the Dead River as it flows into Lake Superior Marquette, Michigan. The second bridge is wood, and it allows a walker to get a nice view of Tioga Creek at the Tioga Creek Roadside Park off US 41 west of Nestoria, Michigan.
This summer of nostalgia and reunions has left me dizzy with memories. The two roads of which Frost wrote have never been relevant to me. I’ve always seen only one road, the one in which I was all in. I don’t care if the glass is half full or half empty; speculating on this is a waste of time. What are ya gonna show me today? What are ya gonna be now? What am I going to be? This is all that’s important; all the other stuff is exterior stuff and it’s not really stuff; to describe it, I often use another S word minus one letter
Recently, I walked a path dark and green; the pony trail in Michigan. When they were young, I held the reins and led my daughters on their ponies Billy and Midnight. It’s a trail that always led to the not trending and to the deep blue sea of Lake Superior. Sometimes on this trail, I’d see the passing of a shadow and remember the words of Chief Seattle, delivered 100 years before I was born:
“And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone.”
At that place, on the shores of gitche gumee, today I prayed on the wall where for many years I sought the counsel of silence.… read more...
Twenty-three years after starting a Men’s Group in Marquette, Michigan with John MacDevitt and Jeff Gibbs, I found them still meeting. Here’s the story, published Aug. 29, 2016 in The Good Men Project.
Follow link below to story.
Thank you TGMP… read more...
42 By a Thread
The indigenous people of the American Southwest – the Dinhe’ – known to the English speaking world as Navajo, are famous for their high-quality and beautiful hand crafted wool rugs. People spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to own one.
But wisdom from this tradition has taught the Navajo to sew one small thread out of place into each rug’s pattern; thereby, working into the design a deliberate mistake. By including a flaw, Navajo acknowledge through the honesty of their art that even the most beautiful work is imperfect.
Life is an art, and the best artists know that every journey requires movement and motion. In yoga terms, our life could be viewed as an asana in which movement into time is beset with flaws and missteps. If yogis take this notion to heart, they will acknowledge, accept, and include their flaws as a necessary part of the beautiful mosaic their lives create.
Many come to yoga with their lives hanging on by a thread and their coping skills stretched to the max. Perhaps it’s the businessman or businesswoman burned out by economic demands and stresses. Maybe another person arrives in yoga with a broken heart, or someone else is tired of the fast pace of urban living, or fatigued with the demands of social media. In all these cases, yoga’s healing patterns in silence, in movement, or in stillness welcomes the flawed life into its creation.
This is why Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras (threads) have become must reading and study for the modern yogi. At a basic level, all of us can commit two or three of Pantanjali’s threads to memory.… read more...
Decompression in a short video. https://goo.gl/photos/pdBb7KKt2JtGT268A
It’s been called The Old Style Place for 42-years, four months. I like to call it Oz. But at this Oz, there is no wizard behind the curtain. Not one is capable of changing the weather or bringing dreams to fruition.
Here, it is still. It is quiet. One is left alone in the heavy gravity of time and its discontents.I keep coming back to Oz for those rare moments when the jagged edges of my psyche melt into the infinite now. A breath in and a breath out in gratitude is the best that I am.
I live for this one breath, and revel in the harmony of one biosphere and one ecosphere, where each waving branch is a small sun and its wild music is mine.
#YogaInspirationals #41 Went live today on DoYouYoga.com
Coaching may seem a little controlling and something unnecessary when we’re talking about the behavior of independent adults, but in yoga space, coaching is not about independence; rather, it’s about cooperation.Because cooperation is not a universal trait, many yoga studios resort to posting their rules and regulations in an obvious, public place. It’s not that people are trying to be nasty, but some simply are less aware of their behavior, and these rules are posted to help everyone sharing space cooperate with one another when there are a variety of simultaneous needs and norms.
Rules and regulations help form a standard behavior that may not appeal to everyone, but aim to limit chaos and unbalanced inconvenience. Listening to the way coaches talk, I’ve learned about the concept of “behavioral targets and performance targets.” I’m not interested in performance targets in relationship to yoga (because that seems a metric designed for competitive sports), but my …
Full article available by following link below to DoYouYoga.com
Thank you, DoYouYoga.com
When I started selling sandals in Hawaii, I discovered there were many people walking around with feet problems. My customers were reluctant to try something new and claimed that anything they wore aggravated their plantar fasciitis.
Others agonized over painful arches or regretted that their toes – confined for years to tight and narrow hard-toe shoes – had curled and morphed into knobby-looking stumps. Often they were embarrassed to take off their shoes and I never heard a customer express love for their beautiful feet.
It took empathy and imagination for me to understand their issues as I’ve never had foot problems. I’ve endured sprained ankles while playing sports, and like others I’ve stubbed my toes, but real foot issues are outside my experience. And when I started yoga at about the same time I began selling sandals, I saw the critical connection between foot comfort and standing asana challenges related to foot stability. It was easy to see the importance of feet and their foundational role in healthy living.
FULL ARTICLE AT: http://asanajournal.com/my-beautiful-feet/
OTHER NEWS: I’m now a featured content writer for Asia’s newest health and wellness destination called THE HEALTH ORANGE. You can check them out through any of their multiple social media channels.
Find their first live posting on any of the following:
You Tube: www.youtube.com/TheHealthOrange
My nonfiction of yoga and other writing is on my Website:http://www.gregoryormson.com
My Purpose? That’s simple.
This fluid journey called yoga – four years in the making – continues its remaking over me.
My practice takes place in the heated mist of a hot yoga room. It’s a practice of eustress and relaxation which morphs into a luminous cloud, salty and damp.
I am connected to you through drops of sweat.
Your asana is my asana, your bending and shaping is my bending and shaping.
To return again and be in that dusty – but it’s not really dust – cloud becomes the road-map for traveling outward as breath moves to sweet release.
My longing is your longing, my travel is your travel.
I’m dragonfly, now rabbit, then camel, now fish – now myself.
Then I evolve once again, going back and yet forward at the same time to child in his innocent repose.
Your evolving is my evolving: we go back to child.
“The way in is the way out,” my guru said
Her wisdom, “the way in is the way out” comes to me from her bloodline far to the east, from a practice that bent and molded her matter-mind, from evidence etched into the soles of her feet. Tucked in like a child, she steps back and forth over the soles of my feet and east meets west.
Moved to low places like water, propelled by gravity, heating, bending, and shaping, I’m an ongoing story of learning. My teachers are ancient yoga reformers.
My reformation is your reformation, my learning is your learning.… read more...
I looked around the yoga room and saw heroes. Heroes were bent and folded into all shapes and sizes and represented all nations. Each of them took on a unique shape just as yoga does in its expressions around the world. And while yoga has been around for a long time, it’s still new to many.
Both the formation of heroes and answers to questions about yoga are in the early stages, and this ongoing face-lift is confusing to many. The bookstore I visit, with approximately 50-thousand books, demonstrated this by recently moving their yoga collection. Yoga books had been shelved in the section on metaphysics and spirituality; now they lean against books about anatomy, exercise, and weightlifting.
For everyone – even librarians – it’s convenient to have a system of categorization. Librarians excel at categorizing, but I think yoga’s place on the shelves might be unclear to them. I have a vision of librarians questioning where to put the yoga books. I imagine them debating its classification: is yoga an esoteric and aesthetic spiritual discipline, an exercise science, a blended religion, or something else?
To continue reading follow link to Asana Journal. http://www.asanajournal.com/making-heroes/… read more...
Thanks Asana Journal 5/31/16
I’m sympathetic to the plight of immigrants. They’ve been in the news a lot lately, and many of us have watched their difficult journeys on television. Like others, I’ve noticed their sunken eyes, their thin frames, the wrinkles on their brow. They’re tired and don’t have energy to smile for the camera. Many of them are suffering post traumatic stress and face an immediate future without a home or homeland.
None of the immigrants had asked to be displaced, and I doubt if anyone looks forward to dangerous journeys over stormy seas or hostile lands. Yet in the midst of their shock and loss, I’ve observed the immigrants express thanks for the basics of food and water. Their dreams for more freedom and better social standing are beyond their immediate concerns, and some only hope to simply survive another day.
READ MORE: www.asanajournal.com/the-immigrant-asana/… read more...
The Hawaiian island of Molokai is 31 miles long and 10 miles wide. Driving through the main street of Kaunakakai (the only town) at 8:00 pm, one might think they’d taken a turn to the wrong decade or century and were transported into an American western town. It’s deserted, old-looking, and silent. But its natural surroundings are spectacular.
Molokai is a place where transitions from modern to old ways happen instantaneously. Stepping off the plane, I saw wild goats grazing 100-yards away at the runway’s end. The airport consists of one building with two gates.
Count the stoplights if you’d like, the number is zero, and much of the island is an electronic dead zone but a vital natural-living zone. If anyone listens carefully walking through the rain forest, they could hear large groups of honey bees cooling their wings in a soft hum, or wild boars grinding their tusks. Forget about shopping mauls and your café latte. They do not exist. In Molokai, you’d grow old waiting for change.
Molokai is one of the rare Hawaiian Islands that has not been modernized or Californicated; but since 1996 -and maybe earlier – the National Parks have been exerting pressure to take away land and turn some historic sites into tourist traps. Sound familiar?
Top speed in Molokai is 45 MPH, and then for only a short stretch on its southern route 450 to the east end. I went in April, the slow time. During a 40 minute drive from my VRBO condo to the lush eastern valley where the road ends, I met 6 cars.… read more...
“My only duty was to describe reality as it came to me – and to give the mundane its beautiful due.”… read more...
When I was training to be an alcohol addiction (5th step) counselor, I learned the phrase conscious contact. The trainer said that if an alcoholic truly made contact with themselves and with God, they would probe the deeper meanings of why they drank alcohol to excess. He emphasized that the honest scrutiny behind conscious contact wasn’t about morality or self-control, but the existential task of grappling with existence and its meaning as reflected in one’s choices.
Lessons in yoga, and training to be a rehabilitation counselor, both start with contact. They begin with personal inventory; in spiritual language, a yogi’s grounding down could be called finding the immanent presence of self. For a person in treatment, its an honest confrontation with personal history.
Second is the yogi’s deeper grasp of choices which puts them in touch with something beyond themselves. In spiritual language, this could be called opening to transcendent presence. For recovery, this is learning of the higher power.
And third, the yogi’s improved off-mat awareness creates a change of life and a possible shuffling of priorities. In recovery, it’s making conscious contact with choices every day.… read more...
From Mourid Baghouti, I Saw Rammalah, p. 132
STORAGE WARS AND YOGA’S EMOTIONAL RESCUE
A reality TV show on the Arts and Entertainment channel is called, “Storage Wars.” In it, a group of bidders look for five minutes at the contents of abandoned and locked storage units, but they can’t go into them. After competitive bidding, the winner is declared the owner of everything in that locker. They rush in with great hope and begin looking through boxes, drawers, and accumulated piles of mishmash.
Sometimes they find valuable coins or artwork, antique toys, or newspapers; however, their newly-bought pile could be old tee-shirts, magazines, or dirty linens and parking tickets, vestiges of life in transit. More often than finding gold, the winning bidder digs up a clutter of left over’s from a human pack-rat.
Storage Wars is popular because it’s a modern day version of the mother-lode gold strike. And in rare cases, the winning bidders of Storage Wars make hundreds of thousands in profit. One discovered Spanish gold coins dating back to the 16th Century valued at half a million dollars, another winner found a model grand piano, and a third uncovered classic toys worth nearly $13 thousand.
CONTINUED IN ASANA JOURNAL. http://www.asanajournal.com/storage-wars-and-yogas-emotional-rescue/
Five days ago, I went to a drum circle attended by about 50 people. It brought me back to my essay in progress.
Drumming takes place through the night until a last tired thumper wanders away in the fog of exhaustion. Their fully-charged reptilian brain shifts to the goal of finding their tent. Some can’t walk away, so they fall asleep on the ground near the fire as the sun rises, lighting up the dawn as shadows drop down from the tree tops.
Taking a path through the woods and away from the drum fire is not new, but our caves are. Tents of orange, green and blue cover the grounds. In the dark, glowing candles from within make them look like Japanese prayer lanterns lit in remembrance of ancestors.
These drummers demonstrate what the new physics teaches: We are all connected. In the drum circle, there is something mystical and unintelligible to senses, but the drummers understand and speak the language of time. They know this language. They’ve learned it by listening.
Listening, according to some experts, is the “most often used but least often practiced communication skill.” But something happens when listening to drums that is more than the sum total of communication. In his fine novel of India, Return to the Source, Lanza Del Vasto once wrote:
“The finest and most complete instrument they have is the drum. It is the voice of all speech, the Aum of all hymns, the foundation of all music. The drum is the bond between the musician’s voice and his body, between his body and the music to which it gives the earthly consistency of the steps it raises.”… read more...
DAY 17. Everything Changes: A Yoga Parable
The people were fueled by energy drinks, but ripe with anxiety and unexamined ambition. The land was drunk on money and the illusion of freedom fired their imaginations. The eight limbs twisted in the wind of post-modernism and creative chaos.
In time, yoga prospered and many realized the teachers brought good medicine. It seemed to help prisoners, alcoholics, those suffering pain, and even angry youth. But some feared its power – especially its counsel to sit alone in silence.
In the counsel of quiet, someone passed a message about movement’s medicine and whispered that diversity is a source for creativity and road to enlightenment. A vision came forth of illusions in misdirected ambition, in Theodrama, and in the construction of culture and its false prophecies of comfort through technology and convenience.
* * *
Then someone at the ashram read a passage from Shelly, and a guru wept:
Life, like a dome of many-colored glass
Stains the white radiance of eternity.
The gurus didn’t understand what had happened, and while nobody claimed credit, people awoke to radiance within. Westlanders didn’t want gurus. They didn’t read books. But they went to their mats and a world opened like the many petals of the lotus in a soft rain, and a light from the crown of their heads went out to eternity.
Every happening great and small
Is a parable whereby God speaks to us
And the art of life is to get the message.
–Malcolm Muggeridge… read more...
Asana Back to the Innocent Age
On an overcast February day, my move toward balasana (child’s pose) began easily enough; “breathe into your truth, breathe into your center,” my teacher said.
The words moved me like someone taking my hands and gently walking me backward into a calm refreshing lake. I would have welcomed this after a slow and voggy day; I mean a day full of vog – volcanic gas cloud residue – suffocating everyone within miles of my writing desk. Things just weren’t happening. I blamed the vog.
Like anyone, I’m involved in making a living and positioning myself for security. I hope for happiness and peace for myself and my extended family. And like others, I want to register my mark in the world and hope my contributions help move the human family in a compassionate direction. I’ve had a good education and learned my civics lessons, so I also embrace my role in helping to alleviate suffering of those less fortunate than myself.
In my best efforts to make a mark in the short time I have to walk the Earth, I’m required to sift through ever-increasing complex data and stimuli that comes to me through my senses. Like all yogi’s living in a material world, I’m obliged to select what I’ll take-in or reject based on my priorities and values.
HARD CHOICES IN AN INTERCONNECTED WORLD
A yogi’s awareness of the world’s interconnectedness leaves him/her with sometimes agonizing choices over what course of action is least-harmful. One approach to this post-modern dilemma is to adopt the ethical creed of non-malificence, or do no harm, a part of the Hippocratic Oath.… read more...
On Feb. 3, 2014 my first yoga article was published in TheYogaBlog. Now, nearly two years to the day, the 30th is published in Asana Journal. Thanks for reading folks, and please pass these on.
You may not do yoga, but perhaps someone you know does or maybe someone you know is thinking about it. Right now my literary agent, Elizabeth Kracht, has my full yoga book and will be shopping it soon to publishers.
New Years’ Resolutions shot to hell? Pfffuf… so what.
Yoga time means a reductive mathematic, a Gandhian core and a shamanistic strategy.
That may mean taking a moment to swing through the trees.
In my twenties, I was the leader of an eight-member music group that toured through India for four months. Landing in Bombay, we took the rail south to Trivandrum, where the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal, and Arabian Sea merge. Going north through Andhra, Madhya, and Uttar states, we passed through Agra and ended the tour in New Delhi. It was my first international trip and I felt challenged by new customs, food, language, and climate. To a student fresh out of college, India was a new and vibrant world I did not understand.
Walking out of church one Easter Sunday, I saw an elderly man sitting on the church lawn near a busy sidewalk. He was practicing garurasana, eagle pose. Most people filed right past him as if he were invisible. I stared, and I thought he looked uncomfortable. That experience was 35 years before I began practicing yoga, and I had no idea what he was doing.
After leaving Delhi, my transition back to the U.S. was rapid, and I felt strangely affected by my travels. I seemed to be seeing things differently. When I went into stores, I found myself looking for things to which I’d grown accustomed in India, such as the blue-faced representation of Krishna adorning wall calendars.
The silence, typical of small town country living, was odd after I’d grown used to the shrieking sound of bus horns. In my music room, I replicated that dissonant and jarring pitch by simultaneously plucking my guitar’s E string on the eighth fret and the G string on the eleventh fret.… read more...
New article today in Yoga International
http://asanajournal.com/yogi-heal-thyself/… read more...
From Michael Wiegers, editor in chief of Copper Canyon Press in Nov/Dec 2015 issue of Poets and Writers.
“On one hand, I don’t directly subscribe to a poetry that “does” something – but at the same time I believe in its power to do something. I don’t think that art or poetry needs to set out to change the world but I think that it can change the world and make us more compassionate, more just, more aware.”
WRITE. Revise, annotate, put it down, parenthesize (it). Change the script, compose a new song, jot a saga, create a path, follow the crumbs, depict a vision.
TRACE the arc, endorse the light, follow energy, create curiosity, register my stamp, Trust the way . . .
Chart a course, chronicle a title, engrave my name, be true.
AUTOGRAPH my correspondence, draw up, reveal and dream. Deliver my rap, savage the critic, curse the blow-hard, kill the perfectionist, punch – u – ate the negative.
CHERISH my cloud, enroll my allies, extract all good, bless my colleagues, publish my creed.
REMEMBER, advocate, strip away adiophora, exalt all heroes and discern.
CHOOSE to do, walk in sure steps, choose to be, hold my own. Honor each word, aim for truths, love creation, write the project, accept what appears. Wait.
Yoga improves brain and bodily intelligence though its attentive repetition. It’s the discipline of one asana at a time. In the midst of each asana, our brains search to interpret the intelligence of our bodies and picks up the yogi’s growing ability to learn from the soles of their feet, from the twists of their spines, from the mindful placement of their palms and fingers.
Focus on the contact figure opens the mind and allows for it to receive the body’s intelligence, and in doing so, the soles of our feet become like a microchip feeding information to the mother board. It’s stunning to think that this is a two-way communication and that our brains are enriched by feedback from the soles of our feet. Breathe deep the gathering wisdom and learn what your bodily contact is teaching
Think of standing on your mat in class holding tadasana, mountain pose, and that your mat is the entire focus of your attention. In your mind, shift your awareness to the place where the soles of your feet make contact with your mat and pretend as if that place is all that exists. Your entire world is made up of the space that forms two outlines on the bottom of your feet. This is what Gestalt calls the figure, and everything else – except that one patch where your two feet make contact – is the back ground/landscape of perception and awareness.
Now imagine standing in mountain pose, lifting one foot from your mat. With one foot lifted, only a small patch of earth/foot contact is directing your life and that one patch is the outline of your right foot.… read more...
In preparation for a piece I’m working on for the AARP Bulletin, and other magazines that focus on aging and health, I attended a senior yoga class today taught by Andrea Hutchens. Afterwards, I asked the students for a few comments about yoga and aging. In just a few minutes, I heard enough to affirm, once again, that this ancient discipline and practice can change lives.
It doesn’t happen in an instant, and the change isn’t easy or predictable. One student told me “I was 58 when I started, but I really wish I would have known about it and started when I was a kid. I think Kaiser should have a program. I think it should be in schools”
She went on to tell me why she started yoga and what it’s done for her. I’m saving that for my article. It’s never to late to start a practice that treats mind, body and soul sans medications and expectations. And when it comes to finding new ways to cope in a world that’s increasingly distressed and dangerous, yoga is a good place to start.
Photos from class at the West Hawaii Civic Center.
Perhaps you’ve watched the A&E Network’s show, Storage Wars. In it, a group of people look for five minutes at the contents of a storage unit from its periphery, but cannot enter the unit. Then they bid to own the unexamined contents inside. The winner is the highest bidder, and his/her reward is ownership of everything in that unit.
The highest bidder might find valuable coins or artwork, antique toys or newspapers. In rare cases, they find instruments. However their newly-bought storage unit could be filled with dirty tee-shirts accompanied by soiled linens and parking tickets, vestiges of life in transit. More often than finding gold, the winning bidder finds the clutter of unresolved issues and remnant droppings of a human pack-rat.
The show is popular because it’s a modern day version of a mother-lode gold strike. In a few cases, bidders have made hundreds of thousands in profit. One bidder discovered Spanish gold coins, some dating back to the 16th Century, valued at half a million dollars. Another winner found a model grand piano and a third stumbled into classic toys worth nearly $13 thousand.
In our yoga bodywork, it’s not long before we are like most of those treasure seekers who run smack dab into unwanted leftovers and are faced with cleanup. It’s widely understood in our yoga communities that our bodies are storage units of past traumas. This includes mental and psychological trauma along with physical injuries.
Dr. David Berceli describes his work treating “deep chronic tension created in the body during a traumatic experience or that has accumulated from prolonged stress.” His therapy to clean up the human body’s storage unit is called TRE, Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises. … read more...
It’s odd to think of yoga and freediving as complementary activities, for it’s accurate to identify yoga as bodily movement led by breathing and freediving as bodily movement while breath-holding. Yet yoga practice can help improve freediving by expanding lung capacity and improving tissue flexibility; and lessons learned beneath while moving under pressure can improve yoga practice.
Living in Hawaii provides me with the opportunity to practice both yoga and freediving as often as I like. These activities are intimately related and both connect to the same core principle: breath work.
But the subject is important to anyone taking 20 to 30 thousand breaths a day, and that’s a big group, including everyone living.
But since practicing yoga, I’ve noticed a big improvement in my ability to hold my breath while diving. In yoga, I do breath-work to make yoga practice satisfying and my dives into the Pacific extraordinary.
It’s not so much the depth to which I can go in either the asana or the dive, but the satisfaction of getting the most from my potential as a diver, a yogi, and a breathing and grateful sentient being.
Growing up in the Midwest, I never dreamed that someday I’d be freediving in the ocean and swimming next to sharks, dolphins or rays. But it’s happened. Neither would I have thought that one day I’d be bending like the palm trees outside the yoga studio, experiencing the depths to which yoga would take me. But that happened too.
BREATH, YOGA’S FOCUS
Anyone stepping into a yoga class learns immediately that the first action focuses on breathing.… read more...
Many years ago when studying for the ministry, one of my professors said something that has stayed with me. “The prayers in worship are where the people of God fight,” he said. Some will pray for rain, some will pray for sunny skies. To which group of devotees should God grant the prayers’ fulfillment?
Today, I refuse to identify any single gathering as “the people of God.” Nobody owns that title; neither do I care about other people’s prayer subjects or what they fight about in church. But I thought long and hard about what my professor meant.
When I deconstruct Facebook postings to their most basic level (mine included), I see postings about self and opinion postings as prayer wrapped in a secular (and public) delivery system. My take on self-posting is that nobody is as happy as they want to appear and I apprehend most opinion as misdirected wishing, aimed at hope for a God that will grant my prayers and thereby make the world into what I want.
Take any issue today that sparks a deep reaction, something “prayer-worthy” if you will. When the Confederate Flag issue was hot, Facebook posts were filled with opinions about it. Most of my friends thought the Confederate flag should come down, but some disagreed.
Guns are again a popular subject on Facebook and there, the people fight .… read more...