Follow link to elephant journal article published on Oct. 31, 2017
So does yoga ruin lives?
But there are many ways to interpret this. Read about it and follow the link at the end of the short article to the video.
With the inhale, exhale, and hold, I’m moved to completeness. I learn that my place, my contentment, is anchored in the link that is welded into me by yoga. These simple moves are a stunning antidote for worry. They have become my spiritual DNA, lodging in my soul and energizing my spine.
I fasten to this deep core with breath and meditation pioneered by music and time. I embody asana and rejoice in a glimpse of the periphery turned central, a new identity refined by fusion of the particular and the universal. Moment by single moment, I inhabit a contentment and know we are all a beautiful crush of salt and pepper.… read more...
Sandpaper reshapes and refines wood by friction and pressure; and when rubbing sandpaper over wood, one sees fine particles fall away and the sandpaper gets hot to the touch. This is how asana and pranayama work together to kindle an inner fire by movement and pressure.… read more...
THREAD also comes from the Old English braed, meaning pulled through a needle. The modern yogi can take one or several threads from Pantanjali and imagine them as bundles connecting breath to body and soul to that which is not of this world. The chosen thread guides the yogi but also braids the yogi to a light of brilliance into which the flaws of our lives and asanas are absorbed and dissolved.… read more...
Breathing into the body leads to calmness of mind and a moment of stillness. When coupled with asana, yoga looks like movement into wider shape shifting in space. But these moves are designed to enable perspective shifting while intentional breath and movement relax the mind and open a pathway for a return to source. This quiet moment of healing and rest will not look the same on every yogi.… read more...
Click on each page to enlarge view.
Thank you to Asana International Yoga Journal for publishing this 56th Yoga Inspirational.… read more...
I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed
I am false.
–Rainer Maria Rilke
Fluid yoga, going to six years, continues remaking and each remaking is connected to another. Born in water, I am dragonfly, now rabbit. I shift to camel, fish, or embody an ever-watchful sphinx. Then I evolve once again, going back and yet forward at the same time to my child in his innocent, trusting repose. My evolving is your evolving: inward, backward, downward.
Your asana is my asana, my bending and shaping is your bending and shaping, your practice of eustress and release morphs into luminous savasana. Your savasana is my savasana, and mine is yours: a cloud, salty and damp.
YOUR LONGINGS ARE MY LONGINGS
This cloud, a safe home for witnesses and their truths, where every joy and sorrow bursts forth in prophetic rain. And as colors bend to make a rainbow, these witnesses bend into their longings. Your longings are my longings.
We breathe into sweet release, and the turning becomes a roadmap for traveling outward. The trail makes little sense; it leads down to the place where gravity rests. Tracking energy for centuries, the Tao notes that water flows to low places. My gravity is your gravity.
My guru said the way out is the way in. Her wisdom comes from a 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 over the soles of my feet, and your East meets my West.… read more...
I’m starting a yoga teacher training program this Saturday in Pine, Arizona. It’s been five years since I first walked into a yoga room in Hawaii, and during that time, I’ve learned from many teachers practicing at 12 studios in four states.
I’ve also been fortunate to attend three yoga workshops outside of regular classes, and while these were only a few hours or a half-day, I caught a glimpse of what a lifelong practice can look like. I was moved by what I learned and experienced with Kim Tang, Esak Garcia, and Lucas Miles. I’d like to borrow something from them and from all the teachers and yogis I’ve met. I hope to use it in my teaching and practice.
All these teachers are good at communicating and leading classes through basic asana. All of them speak of connection to breath and self and they all say breathe and stay present, everyone invites relaxation, and gives encouragement to do the work, and in this intentional engagement everyone discovers what they need to know.
Some use oils and music, some heated room, some chimes, bells and singing bowls, but not everyone. In some cases, they go beyond, as in the practice of Bhakti (devotional) and Naad Yoga -sound and healing – which opens self to greater Self (Cassandra Bright, Gilbert Yoga, Gilbert, AZ); speaking of how yoga restores hope and saves lives after horrible accidents, healing physical body which leads to spiritual restoration (Sheila Nelson, Motto Yoga, Queen Creek, AZ); energy healing and the way of chakras, sound, and the singing bowl (Suzette Johnston, Motto Yoga, Queen Creek, AZ); yoga after running and the pursuit of kundalini and continual learning to make intellectual connections (Leslie Pelke, Motto Yoga, Queen Creek, AZ); how to take joy and happiness from a disciplined practice (Kirsten Holmson and her team at Community Soul, Wausau, Wis); yoga as gift for all ages and peoples – especially kids – (Robyn Bretyl, Lightbody Yoga, Wausau, Wis); the willingness to take risks and reach beyond the normal (Lori Jokinen, Jennifer Taylor, and her team from Tulivesi Yoga in Marquette, Mi); the courageous heart – Croix Croga – of yoga (Katie Ziemann, Croix Croga, Wausau, Wis); yoga as the moving, transforming connection between heart and soul (Andrea Hutchens Tika Anandisari, Aaron, Melissa Katherine Lotus Heart, Brooke Meyers, Sarah Bloom, Jenna Rae, Dana Strang and Sai Fon Woozley from Yoga Hale in Hawaii); the affirmations and benefits of yoga, asana, and pranayama leading to a heightened breathcentric awarenss (a special shout out to Mark Hough, Shannon Matson, and Yolanda Bottomley from Bikram Yoga on the big island of Hawaii); the willingness to take yoga anywhere (Lorrie Blockhus, OM Sweet OM Yoga in the serene but tick infested northwoods of Wisconsin.… read more...
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...
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...
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...
Thank you to Asana Journal for publishing my 50th Yoga Inspirational, “Enter the Master, Enter the Child.”
Comment if you’d like. I always appreciate hearing feedback from you.
Greg, author at gregoryormson.com, @GAOrmson
Profiles: Tumblr StumblOn, Pinterest, Reddit, Discuss, Diigo, Xing, Asana Journal, DoYouYoga.com, elephant journal, Yogi Times, Yoga International, HelloYoga.com, The Health Orange, Tribegrow.com (April 2016),TheYogaBlog, Medium.com… 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...
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...
THE STORY OF HOW YOGA BROUGHT MY SOUL BACK
After a day moving to Hawaii and into a new apartment, I was on a hard wooden floor in pain. This led me to yoga in an attempt to fix my back. It was out of desperation, yet a few weeks later I found myself in a hot yogaroom. With no formal background — and very little knowledge of yoga — I went to a class searching for something to make me strong in my broken places. I hoped I wouldn’t collapse, but was also confident about the challenge before me. With no preparation or personal experience, I jumped in.
My plan was to try yoga for thirty days. Then, I would evaluate how my back felt and decide if I should continue. I made it through twenty-four classes that month and found my will galvanized. My conclusion was clear: Yoga is the way to go for healing back pain. “It’s so simple,” I wrote, “why don’t more people do it?” Yoga worked, but the transformation goes deeper.
I decided to keep attending and keep writing about it because I thought my practice in a heated room would benefit me in other ways too, and I was eager to discover them. But notes about yoga were not my only subject. I started writing on everything that came to me during that beautiful hour: I numbered the sessions, made notes about the teachers, chronicled my thoughts about the class and penned other insights.
#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
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...
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...
Click on link below to read full article in Asana Journal.
#YogaInspirationals no. 35
“My only duty was to describe reality as it came to me – and to give the mundane its beautiful due.”… read more...
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/
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
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...
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...
Think of standing on your mat in class holding 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 background/landscape of perception and awareness.
My yoga class sometimes reminds me of lectures in Gestalt psychology when my professor spoke about making contact; and with that heightened contact, the impact of fully digesting food and digesting experience. His inference was that one can digest both life and food when one takes time for focus on the figure of awareness.
Recently, while absent-mindedly walking barefoot on a wood floor, I reached for something and felt a little off balance. Immediately, I was aware of a strong corrective to my imbalance, but it wasn’t coming from my brain, it was coming from the soles of my feet.
I was surprised, for I had never before felt a corrective to in my balance coming from my feet. I asked myself, Are my feet becoming smarter, or am I just becoming more aware of their contact and catching up to that reality? This small example is the wider truth of yoga practice. It increases bodily intelligence and directly related mental intelligence.… read more...
My teacher speaks in clusters of daring “The way in is the way out.” It’s her graceful word rising from years looking at the blank slate over the Pacific, her lungs breathing deeply of this rolling mist. 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.… read more...
It’s easy to imagine how yoga works when living near a boiling volcano. It flows like lava: heating, bending, and shaping. It reforms everyone, twisting them into their unique physiography. They collapse and then rise. Their gaze, a pyramid of discovery, moves from ground to horizon to sky. An ascent takes place. Energy is exchanged. The yogi rests and is transformed.… read more...
Original illustration for my book by Kira Kamamalu, Hawaii.… read more...
The movement became unpredictable, and while nobody could take credit, yoga unveiled a curtain and people awoke to radiance within. But Westlanders didn’t want gurus, they didn’t read books. But took to their mats and the world opened like many petals of the lotus in a soft rain.
Ch. 17 Yoga Inspirationals
Published June 5, elephant journal. Link below.
Yoga and the Place of Soul.
Via Gregory Ormson Jun 5, 2015
On a recent trip out of state, I attended yoga class seven days in a row with no duplicate sessions. Some featured music, some included chanting near the end and some used scented oil.
I was surprised that being in an unfamiliar place and experiencing new forms of practice created an opening within me that I hadn’t previously experienced. In one situation, during a slow-moving class, I was connecting in a new way. Afterward, I realized that is what yoga was made for: to tune into a deeper and more authentic self.
I think I briefly touched what I can only describe as my soul. The music, scented oils, meditations, slow movements, breath work, chanting and bell-ringing were new vehicles that helped me find previously untraveled roads. In those few moments, a fresh mantra came to me, which I now use in meditation. It’s a spiritual mantra, helping me focus on being a better person and presence in the world, both to myself and others.
B.K.S. Iyengar also wrote about how yoga goes beyond mere physical practice: “My own body was the laboratory in which I saw the health benefits of yoga, but I could already see that yoga would have as many benefits for my head and heart as it did for my body.”
I’ve had more than my share of spiritual experiences, including spiritually focused sweat lodges, Andean mountainside pyramid building and centering rituals, Indian prayers and meditations at the Gandhi Center in New Delhi, Gestalt doctoral-level group practicums centering on spirituality and psychodrama, spiritual retreats, peace center events, drum circles, church choral gatherings, 14 years working as clergy developing and leading a variety of rituals, and even an encounter with a shapeshifter in India.… read more...
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