Thanks to Sivana east for publishing my 70th yoga piece (yogainspirationals).
Thanks also to: Yoga International, Yogi Times, elephant journal, Asana Journal, Do You Yoga, Hello Yoga, Tribe Grow, Seattle Yoga News, The Yoga Blog, The Health Orange, Medium, Boa Yoga, and AZ Rider Southwest.
#yogainspirationalsnumber70, #motorcyclingyogiG, https://gregoryormson.com, #amwriting, #arizonayogateacherandcoach, #mottoyoga #yogaandleather #superstitionharleydavidson
68th published yoga article, Issue 187 ASANA JOURNAL
Louie Netz, Director for Harley-Davidson’s Styling and Graphics Department once said, “Form and function both report to emotion.” It’s likely when observing a yoga pose, or the stylish symmetry of a Harley-Davidson taking a curve, to believe motorcycles are about speeding through curves and yoga is about perfectly aligned asanas.
A yogi on the mat or a Harley-Davidson on the highway both perform their function at a high degree and garner attention, but the brilliance of yoga – and a great motorcycle – is its move from form to function and ultimately to emotion.
Like many newcomers, when I started yoga, I thought it was about what I saw; and I noticed people bending into forms that were – at first – perplexing. I also thought it was about what I heard yoga could do for my injured back. I believed if yoga could heal my injuries I would feel better and that would be all I could expect.
My yoga evolution was gradual; I practiced to feel better, then to learn good alignment and accomplish more asanas. As a dedicated student, I paid attention to words from my teachers as they led me to correct placement of my feet and hands. I followed their instructions which led me through breathing techniques and transitions.
But right away, I sensed there was something happening well beyond what was taking place on my mat. I didn’t know, but I was on my way to connect, or yoke deeply to my full self, and at the same time, something much broader and deeper than just me.… read more...
The surprises, somewhere east of Bryce Canyon, UT. Link below
The people, like Rick and Linda from Troy, New York. She was wearing a hat from Superstition Harley Davidson, Peter from Australia, Ron from Hanksville, UT and the unknown fiddler below on Utah state highway 12.
Read my 64th Yogainspirationals published by Sivana East, by following the link under article snippet below.
The power of a word has always been recognized by schools of spirituality and in leadership studies. In the Christian Gospel of John, one reads “In the beginning was the Word.” The Rik Veda strikes the same tone, “In the beginning was Brahman, with who was the Word.” There are other examples, but the centrality and power of Word is the common insight.
An active yoga practice does not demand that practitioners choose a mantra, yer it can center one’s practice and improve an understanding of our identity in the world as both spiritual and physical beings.
Gregory Ormson saw yoga on his first trip to India in the ’70’s. Currently, he writes and teaches at MOTTO YOGA in Queen Creek, Arizona, and leads his signature program, “Yoga and Leather: Yoga for Bikers,” at Superstition Harley Davidson in Apache Junction, Arizona. His doctoral degree (D. Min), from the Chicago Theological Seminary, focused on the power of touch for ritual healing in liminal environments. He’s worked as a public speaker, college teacher, retreat leader, corporate trainer, baseball and soccer coach.
Ormson graduated from The University of Wisconsin, La Crosse (BS), Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan (MA), Trinity Lutheran Seminary (M. Div), and The Chicago Theological Seminary (D. Min). Along with Sivana East, Ormson’s writing on yoga is published in 11 national and international journals, magazines, blogs and Web sites. He writes on yoga, motorcycling, music, and The Midwest.
By mobilizing prana – accompanied with mindful movement – effortless, joyful expression is set into muscle memory. The premise that cellular health aligns with thought and intention (the biology of belief) is the reason yoga pays attention to mental outlook, for while stress is perceived in the mind, it is felt in the body. Activating the joy paradigm provides the opposite effect yet happens through the same process.
In the workshops I’ve done at MOTTO YOGA, I’ve included others to help lead the experience. In January, Dan Meyer showed up and dropped a REAL SWORD down his throat and talked about how that is worship for him. In the other workshops, I’ve had Cindy Cain and Lee Swenson accompany me with fiddle, guitar, and voice/rain stick.
The assumptions of my inherited culture: Euro-American, Lutheran-Christian, mental dualism, WASP, have shaped my perceptions and limit my ability to truly inhabit yoga’s culture. From this conditioning, I’m positioned like a hungry-man at a feast; I taste the food, but the flavor escapes me.
My play to be a yogi brings me to discernment where the contraries press me to awareness and lead me to examine the how and why of fate. How did I, a Midwestern male, end up lying on my stomach – top and bottom of my spine arching up at the direction of an ancient Indian mind/spirit/body science – impersonating an Egyptian tomb-protector? My inhale takes me to the mystery of purushamrigasana, a figure with the face of Pharaoh that we call sphinx.
Each yogi stretches and lifts at the direction of the teacher: man, woman, Asian, African, American, and each one contributes to the curriculum growing into a great melting pot of diversity and energy. This restless American pastiche is soothed by the flavor of an ancient culture, and in the yoga room, we become part of its recipe.
The seekers are everywhere and I praise them. They take off with tender wings to do asana as if they were nimble dancers or the stony sphinx. On the surface, we are childlike; but with each asana, with each breath, I witness a hope in reaching and lifting, learning and growing.
I see them, and note they are living embodiments to mystery and mythology; I see them as material and matter, and I see them doing yoga from the ground up.… read more...
The movement became unpredictable, and while nobody took credit, yoga unveiled a curtain and people looked through the mirror to a radiance within. Westlanders were distracted; they didn’t listen to gurus and didn’t read books, but they took to their mats and became present with themselves. They remembered their joy and opened like the petals of a lotus in soft rain.
LOOK WHO IS “DOING IT” WRITING ABOUT YOGA!
Yogi Times Profile:
https://www.yogitimes.com/profile.php?personid=1f088e40ede195abf93ba8668a60eb0f&secid=232389dc98a87dbb07e1099753b73ddb… read more...
They practice yoga in a 104 degree room when it’s 105 outside. They come from all walks of life: age, race, physical condition, gender, profession, and status. But they all do YOGA to sharpen their mind and focus their will. They show up to strengthen their bodily systems, to ground their minds in the present and deeply draw breath to hold the vital principle.
This is inspiring to observe and compels me to write. I love yoga, and I love these yogis and yoginis that keep working, keep activating, keep grounding, keep breathing, keep centering, keep on keepin’ on to make their lives better, deeper, and more leonine.
They yoga to embody their asana, mobilize prana, focus the monkey mind, and surrender cares; and when they do, the transforming medicine of yoga in its physical, non-physical, and metaphysical form makes them anew.
The yoga journey is a process of transformation, and it’s stunning to observe. This is the privileged observation of a yoga teacher: nothing more or less than friend, companion, and witness to the truth of being.
Slow Down and Breathe
Yogis have been attempting to articulate the importance of pranayama for centuries, and the effort is still relevant because when a person starts yoga it doesn’t take long for them to realize its a breath centric practice which changes everything.
The practice of pranayama is an important observance by itself, but is often done in haste, as if a couple minutes at the beginning of class is sufficient warm-up for the real work of asana.
Patanjali wrote, by the right control of breath, we overcome ignorance. Breath work is a hallmark of the yogi’s intelligence, and control of breath is intimately linked to the yogi’s heightened awareness of biological and cosmic forces.
Approaches to Pranayama
It’s important to concentrate on breath or prana as a distinct activity with its own benefits and techniques as well as a guiding anchor for asana. Some yoga practices start with pranayama before asana while others pay attention to activating and sustaining ujaii breath throughout asana and pause occasionally to work on pranayama.
Another option is to end practice with a breathing set. But to fully activate the vital life force, central to building the foundation for yoga and life, attention to breath throughout must be paid.
Pranayama isn’t something to rush through in order to get to asana. One 80 year old man I know got the right idea after his first-ever yoga class at YOGA AND LEATHER: Yoga for Bikers. His replacement knees made it difficult for him to bend, and his large body ached, but he did the pranayama exercises – practicing inhale and exhale – while observing others do asana.… read more...
Relinquishment is to spirituality as rain is to flowers.
In relinquishing cultural norms, one becomes present to being, grounded in body, as the seat of religiosity. In every moment, yoga reassembles the truth-temple of flesh and bone; its molecular pilotry moves the yogi to become a seeker of breath and conduit of royal consciousness. “We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon.”… read more...
Yoga inspirational number 36, published in YOGI TIMES, March, 2016. Update 3/27/18
It’s likely when observing the stylish symmetry of a Harley-Davidson, or a yoga pose in perfect aligment, to believe motorcycling is about the eye-catching chrome machine rumbling down the road and that yoga is about what we see on Instagram as yogis strike a perfectly aligned asana. That’s not to criticize this, for each pose represents the probability that thousands of practice hours went into the building these asanas. Nobody shrinks into inflexibility in mind or body overnight, and it may take years of practice to strike a pose where we bend like palm trees in the wind.
A yogi on the mat or a Harley-Davidson on the highway both perform their function at a high degree – garnering attention – but the brilliance of yoga is its regression from form to function and ultimately to emotion.
Like many newcomers when I started yoga I thought it was about what I saw. I noticed people bending into forms that were – at first –perplexing. To a lesser degree, I thought it was also about what I heard yoga could do, and that was to heal my injured back. I believed if yoga could heal my injuries I would be happy and that would be all I could expect. But there was more.
As a dedicated student, my yoga evolution was gradual; I practiced to feel better, then to learn good alignment.… read more...
Serving others as a teacher, healer, or a therapist is not an occupation for those with identity questions or ambiguity about their life’s work. Therapists and healers are called to their work by something larger than themselves and they know it in their bones. In the realm of healing work, whether you engage from the prepared space of your therapeutic container, yoga studio, or another more public arena, chances are you ‘ll not be getting much affirmation, so your ego must be strong but not big
In Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom, B.K.S. Iyengar wrote that the problem of self-healing is especially difficult for those who have achieved positions of prominence – like physicians, therapists, healers and other achievers – yet the generative therapist, healer, or teacher deepens their wisdom when they understand their greatest strength may also be their greatest weakness.
Iyengar’s voice is clear when writing about the pitfalls of human pride.
Considerable achievements also bring in their wake considerable dangers. An obvious one is pride – not satisfaction in a job well done – but a sense of superiority and difference, of distinction and eminence.
This is why healers working from the prepared space of their therapeutic container, yoga studio, or another more public arena, must have a strong ego, but not a big one. Self-healing can be more elusive than roping fish.
HUMILITY: THE HEALING ATTITUDE
To move from a place of high achievement to self-healing is hard because it takes humility. It’s also difficult because the place of humility is not a place.… read more...
Mantra: The Power of Word
Mantra is Sanskrit for a word or phrase that the yogi repeats during practice or meditation. Its benefits include anything from improved concentration to “feats making the impossible possible,” according to Dr. Gautam Chatterjee, a prolific author who coined the term positive mantra.
An empowering and healing word-based mantra starts as a simple exercise of mind. Over time, with steady use, one can imagine their mantra as a precious note brought down from sacred hills, delivering a genuine gift of centeredness to the yogi.
The power and centrality of word has always been recognized in philosophy and belief. John’s Gospel states, “In the beginning was the Word.” The Rig Veda strikes the same tone, “In the beginning was Brahman, with whom was the Word.”
A Guru’s Gift
Historically, for advanced yogis, the mantra was a gift from their guru. It was a vehicle that assisted the yogi in his or her soul’s drive to oneness with God.
Though most of us do not have such a grand purpose for mantra such as union with God, a well-chosen mantra can help us reconnect to a healing place, find a mother lode of peace andcontentment, or perhaps even move the impossible to possible.
While an active yoga practice does not demand that practitioners choose a mantra, I think it can help improve both one’s practice and one’s acceptance of their place in the world.
Turning to Mantra for Guidance
My mantra has proven its efficacy, even when I resist. I concentrate and silently repeat it with faith that important work is happening.
Yoga Inspirationals number 52, first published in DOYOUYOGA.COM, July 5, 2016.
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.
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 curiosity about behavioral targets has led me to think about how I would coach newcomers to yoga.
Cooperation requires a different set of group skills than individualism, and the guidelines for studios will only work with cooperation.
Yoga and “Behavioral Targets”
In yoga, you might hear that nobody is there to judge you…and I think that’s true. But, people do evaluate you.
Your teachers evaluate you because they want to know where you are in your practice and figure out how best to help you. They evaluate me too, it’s just the way humans are.
With the inhale, exhale, and hold, I’m moved toward completion. I learn my place, my contentment, is anchored in the link that yoga welds to me. These simple moves are a stunning antidote for worry. Yoga’s inhale and exhale has become my spiritual DNA, lodging in my soul and energizing my spine.
I fasten to this deep core with breath and meditation pioneered through music and time. I embody asana, mobilize prana, surrender cares, and focus the monkey mind to catch a glimpse of the periphery turned central, the outcome of a new pedagogy fueled by fresh oxygen.
I’m slowly refined by fusion of the particular and the universal which rises from within moment by moment. I’m led to a contentment where I know that we are all a beautiful crush of salt and pepper; its savory alchemy spices all material and reforms all biology. This is the how and the way of yoga.
It’s been a good experience these last seven months teaching YOGA AND LEATHER: Yoga for Bikers.
Next year, I will pan once a month for riders to meet at Superstition Harley Davidson, and then ride bikes to a separate location (park, river-flat, desert plain), where we’ll practice yoga. This practice will also provide each of us with ideas on how to put our minds and bodies at ease when we stop or take a break from riding.
Here are photos from one class in January that will set the stage for next year’s YOGA AND LEATHER.
In the meantime, I hope you all find a home studio or a place near you to practice. I’m convinced that yoga will benefit us on the road, and the more all of us practice yoga the more we’ll discover this for ourselves. Thanks for a good 7 months. We’ll see you again in October.
and many thanks to M.J. Britt for these photos of YOGA AND LEATHER: Yoga for Bikers in the Eagles Nest at Superstition Harley Davidson. Thanks also to Brina Brown and Superstition HD for opening the nest for yoga.
” . . . a story is a grid, an archetypal narrative, a divine scaffolding that organizes experience into a complexity of meanings and forms. The life that may otherwise appear to be unbearably random or intolerably chaotic becomes whole when made known through the revelation of the intrinsic narrative.”
Imagine the stories . . .… read more...
Today, spiritual notions of integrated unitary consciousness are popular but suspect. Some people require facts, and without verifiable facts proving esoteric dimensions, will dismiss such notions and think of consciousness and chakra activation as nothing but wild speculation.
But quantum studies in the subatomic realm more than suggest that everything is composed of vibrational energy even if we cannot prove it. Yogic philosophy treated this idea by suggesting that anything in matter has previously existed in the unmanifest cosmic womb. Indian philosophy even had a name for this place of pure potentiality, calling it hiranyagarbha, or the Golden Womb, the origin of all creation. Technically, ‘hiranya’ means ‘golden’ and ‘garbha’ means womb, and its symbol is a golden egg.
The science of physics has opened up big ideas like the notion of energy as vibration, or a not-yet manifest form of matter. It has helped Westerners accept that matter is not as concrete as we thought. Quantum thought maintains that the unmanifest is as real as each of us here and now, but is unrecognizable until energy and matter manifest or bring it into material form.
This is how healing consciousness moves too, for consciousness of a thing also changes the mode of being in that thing which is beheld. The Heisenberg Indeterminacy Principle, from the field of physics, affirms this insight and points out that it’s not possible to observe matter without influencing its actions. And while it’s true that the principle was developed while observing the velocity and speed of quantum particles, it applies to all matter.
The paralytic man’s friends (story from the Gospel of Mark), were determined to place him in close proximity to the pure consciousness of healing in Jesus.… read more...
The Christian church used to be central to my life, vocation, and identity but it’s not anymore.
Still, I bring my past theological training to my yoga practice and on occasion I remember a word or idea from my past to interpret how I express and experience yoga.
I think of a scriptural passage where the writer is reminding his community that they are not alone. He tells them that they are, in fact, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.
Traditionally, the cloud meant a mass of condensed water vapor, usually white, or tinged in various shades of grey and black. But in our day, a cloud has come to mean a digital storage space. Ok, that’s cool.
But I also see a cloud as a continually morphing group of people that see me on my mat—sweating and putting forth effort—and it’s exactly how I see them. When practicing yoga, I am one member of this cloud, a group of people that witness to each other’s’ effort, practice, time, and presence.
I practice in studios with many members. I try to learn names so that I can address them personally. In one studio, I know over fifty people by name. These names remind me that I am not alone—even when my yoga feels like a solitary pursuit. Still, I work to remember each name in our studio because a name concretizes the amorphous nature of a cloud and it tells people they are not just a number but a person with a name.
Written out, these names would fill only one page, but if they were added to all the yogis and yoginis that have gone before, the pages would fill stacks in the tallest libraries.… read more...
Follow link to story in MEDIUM.
The next class for YOGA AND LEATHER: Yoga for Bikers, is Wednesday, Jan. 17, 4:30 at Superstition Harley Davidson. See how these bikers are keeping themselves ready to Ride On!
A BIG THANK YOU to M.J. Britt for taking these photos at Superstition HD.
When motorcycling and yoga come together, good things happen. Practice yoga at Superstition Harley Davidson and feel the roar of motorcycles below the Eagles Nest. It’s different, but bikers and yogis have never been afraid of different.
Yogis come in all shapes and sizes and so do bikers. Yoga and motorcycling require many of the same skills:
ability to be calm in the midst of stress
sequential learning to master corners or poses
movement with awareness and presence of mind
flexibility and balance
This is just a start. Find out how yoga can keep you riding now and into the future.
I’ll meet you in the Eagles Nest !
YOGA BENEFITS FOR BIKERS
Increased strength and muscle tone through weight bearing and power postures / for large bikes and long tours, building strength for long days on the road.
Improved balance by practicing one-leg standing postures / better control in tight U turns and backing.
Increased mental focus and coordination, clarity of thought developed by balance and silence in yoga practice / life and death on the bike is directly related to mental focus and clarity.
Improved sleep after a hard yoga practice / no dozing while driving, deeper sleep leads to increased energy on the road.
Improved posture / improved back and neck comfort on rides.… read more...
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.
If you believe yoga is a physical discipline, I’ll play mystic from the East and counter, yoga is not matter, its mind. If you were to say, “Yoga is a confusing philosophy,” I’ll rebut, its focus is the empirical (diet and bodily health). If one maintains yoga is found in the experience of asana, I’ll point to the crown chakra and our intimate participation with the cosmic Self. If someone says, “Yoga is spirituality,” I’ll ask, what do you mean? If a yogi tells me, “Yoga is a path to heightened consciousness,” I’ll say, okay, but to what end?… read more...
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...
Asana becomes joyful and effortless when it is an expression of gratitude. In movement, our attitude is ingrained into muscle memory and our lives change. This is the premise of japa yoga; cellular shape aligns with thought and intention. Our bodies absorb everything our minds present. When stress is perceived in the mind it is felt in the body. Often it stays there to the detriment of our health and well-being.… read more...
A beautiful house is nothing if the furniture inside is draped in a gunnysack of negativity. If our inner house is awash in pride, jealousy, anger, and deep-seated prejudice, yoga offers and enables relinquishment of this toxic brew.
Where resentment is held in the body, yoga brings it to the surface and by asana pulls it out of the body. Then we observe, and decide if compassion will replace condemnation.
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...
MUSIC from an Internet radio station plays in the background. Tablas and harmonium weave a soft melody. Sometimes a flute or sitar joins the song, and it pours over me like waves from the Pacific. It’s compelling to my ear. I try to concentrate on my pose, but sometimes I wander and follow the music.
I follow the sound, slow my heartbeat and ground my awareness. I’m still in class, but I imagine diving below and swimming deep. I listen closely and believe I hear the octopus changing colors. I open my eyes and breathe sound of the room.
In the tapas of my practice and its link to my muscle and sinew, a moment turns into a hour and my tribute to those who have gone before. An epic prayer from ancestors is on my lips.
Music stills me and I stay in the room until I hear my teacher give her blessing.. Her soft voice heaps a lavish blessing upon the gathered yogis which we accept and hold, “May your practice bring strength to your bodies, clarity to your minds, kindness and compassion to your hearts.”
I take this and know that I have been brought around and past my edges. I will go into the world with slightly less border and boundary, inhabiting a conscience of wider circles and deeper draws of inclusion
I realize this reshaping is the nexus of my identity, the ring of fire connecting my courage and passion. I have been showered in wholeness and connected by the strength, clarity, kindness, and compassion of the words that take me to the heart center.… read more...