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Inspired by the breath training and yoga practice of Magnus Carlsen, eight time world Grand Chessmaster (a story from The Best American Sports writing of 2020), I found connections between Carlsen’s practices training for chess matches – that can take up to a week – and my experiences with freediving, motorcycling, and yoga.
While teaching motorcycle riding, I saw how people tightened up and held their breath when the riding range was wet, when they were evaluated, and when they were asked to do ‘figure eight’ moves in a tight space. If yoga classes could help people with stress and challenges during yoga, I thought asana poses targeted specifically to bikers’ needs could help bikers in many ways.
Yoga for bikers targets poses for: hips, back, neck, shoulders, arms, wrists and hands. Preparing to teach an unusual yoga group, I searched and discovered many stories of yoga’s effects on performance in unusual places; the most unexpected were the worlds of freediving and competitive chess.
Freediving and yoga
In Hawaii, one of the first things my freediving instructor asked me was: “Do you practice yoga?” He said yoga people do better in freediving because they’ve learned how to breathe and relax when in stress.… read more...
In describing Welsh poet and prose writer Dylan Thomas’ 1947 poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night,” Denise Levertov wrote, “it is a rapturous ode to the unassailable tenacity of the human spirit.” Here, Randy Anagnostis and I create an interpretation for today with a few lines from Thomas’ poem.
Artists’ respond, aiming to align wonder, word, and music. They lean into imagining what the tree sees in relationships, in children, and in backyard dreams. Thorburn’s tree is a witness to life in the yard, the house, in the sky above, and the buckling sidewalk below; the whole tree-is-us in our tangled roots and bent branches, our rancors and revelries, and our brittle bark tattooed by the scars of our days.
We are like every tree and its intangible roots beneath the sidewalk, reaching from yard and house to neighborhood and back again. Enmeshed below ground, trees know things and their hidden network chronicles the backyard’s rich saga: kids climbing and laughing in the branches, people in houses looking back at the tree from behind windows, and the green sky of aurora borealis above.
In our winter of pandemic and discontent, the tree is abandoned by yellowing leaves born away by freezing winds, shivering branches, and dropped to their winter-burial grounds “Everything I know I’ve learned from trees,” a friend from Michigan wrote to me the week before Christmas. I love trees too, but not everyone does; and his note reminded me of the politician who said, “When you’ve seen one redwood you’ve seen ’em all.”
I pity those who see every tree the same. It’s a different kind of poverty from the ‘poverty of spirit,’ which the Gospels praise. Bereft of wonder, one is left with a forlorn poverty of being. Such a fool, unable to appreciate music, art, poetry, or trees, may have a heart pumping lifeblood through his/her veins and arteries, but they are dull in their feeling function, incapable of beholding a Christmas tree or any tree in wonder and awe.… read more...
Recorded with Audacity, Gregory Ormson lyrics and Washburn D-Series DADGAD guitar, played through Boss Acoustic Singer Pro Amp; keyboard by Randy Anagnostis on Yamaha PB125 with Focus Scarlet Gen 3 Audio Interface. One of several Anagnostis/Ormson original song collaborative pieces.
VIDEO link https://youtu.be/NfClYOCX3xA… read more...
Embodying asana, I rejoice in the glimpse of periphery turned central, and inhabit an identity formed of particularity and universality. I pause to center myself in each moment and from this still point, know we are all a beautiful grey, a crush of salt and pepper.
Surrendering to moments that bend and shape me, no matter how I fail, I open as a flower to spring and seek to correct the direction of my inward compass. When I insert my ego and rough-hew the curriculum’s established gravity, I dim its shining divinity waiting to guide me.
Steadily I release into yoga’s entry point, listen to its song, and follow an inner melody to the beautiful transformation becoming me. Near the end, I sink into a container of heat and transformation, a liminal space where a guru points the way.
Yoga class ends. I hear my teacher, dedicated and honorable, give her blessing. Her voice, like the chant of angels, sounds a comfort upon the gathered yogis, one I accept.
“May this practice give strength to your body, kindness and compassion to your heart, calm and clarity to your mind. Namaste.”
I let this hold me as close as breath holds my life underwater. I walk away telling myself to take it all in deeply, to embrace yoga’s alchemy that connects me to all, and to not dig up in doubt what I’ve planted in faith.
Photo by Randy Anagnostis at the Salt River, Mesa, AZ., 7/22/2020… read more...
Thank you to Om Yoga Magazine for covering Yoga & Leather (May 2020 issue) on how bikers and yogis can get their zen (and their maintenance) in yoga and on the bike. Teaching yoga in a Harley Davidson Motorcycle dealership in the American South is not common but OM published this story of an uncommon yoga outreach. Read all about it here, or see the video link at the end of this post.
See the May issue by going to pocketmags.com., where a free digital issue can be yours, or by ordering a subscription for the hard copy magazine. Yogainspirationals number 97 by Gregory Ormson,… read more...
Russell Thorburn and Gregory Ormson have worked together for over a decade writing original poems, prose, and music. Much of it happens in spite of distance and isolation. The eight songs/poems posted over the next 8 days of April will close out NATIONAL POETRY MONTH for 2020.
Russell Thorburn plays “Chelsea Hotel,” a composition he wrote to celebrate Dylan Thomas. The hotel is similar to a whale swimming through the Atlantic humpbacked Ocean of New York City, and lives are certainly made of vibrations, artists and poets who swam through the hallways and never reached shore. In the song Dylan opens the door to Death wearing a Fifth Avenue gown and black gloves; he is there at his typewriter to finish the last pages of Under Milk Wood.
Substitute Thomas for Ormson’s memoir and corners of eternity, and don’t answer the door. “Chelsea Hotel” was performed at the Beaumier Folk Series Concert in 2014, Northern Michigan University. I was on piano and mumbling the lyrics. Here is the basic piano track in another gummersound recording. R. Thorburn
Free diving in Hawaii opened me to a whale song’s sonic jangling my synapses and brain cells. It came to me from deep down and far out. Sounds swam through the water and past my cochlea until my inner ear caught humpback aria as it rearranged maps in my head.
Under the waves, I heard the ecstatic; it was accompanied by sweeter-still unheard melodies of which John Keats wrote. Years later, I’m still trying to make sense of it all, like the yellow-robed priests: Mayan, Incan, or Egyptian, who crumbled into the dust at such otherworldly ditties. … read more...
We’re all flat on our backs in a liminal place, fired by tapas and its heat of transformation. I’m listening as a guru points the way, and slowly my doubt is burned by fire and sent to the trash bin of insecurity.Heat and gravity are my honest teachers, and they’re worthy companions delivering an exacting curriculum of change. When I insert my ego into the moment and rough-hew its curriculum, I mute the shining fire of tapas branding me in this container.
The tapas of yoga is not of my making. It doesn’t heed my objections, or accept my charges to change or comfort me in the twinkling of an eye. In fire, I am only left to breathe and positioned to trust; by my simple presence and trust I participate in the yoga economy of rebirth out of the flame.
This economy doesn’t just subtract or burn away, it also adds, multiplies, and divides certainty into millions of shades. Yoga’s economy is Gandhian in its disciplined core, negative in its spiritual logic, countercultural in its teleology, and hotly shamanistic in its strategy.
In this season of our discontent, our wiser revelry may be composed of welcoming close the sublime inside a spoonful of shaman, holding forth with a pinch of subtraction for division and discontent, riding with attention on the coattails of science, and supping together with a cup of cheer for our endings not yet defined.
#Kilauea, #breathnotes, #satsong, #gregoryormson, #amwrititing, #yogainspirationals
Writing on yoga, music, and motorcycling @ https://gregoryormson.com Tweet@ GAOrmson… read more...
Restaurants and bars – common biker stops – are closed. Large scale events, including bike events, are cancelled.
If you want to ride, Yoga & Leather Stretch Ride is on for March 29. But . . . only show up at the Superstition Harley Davidson west side parking lot at 10:30 am if you can observe six (6) feet of distance between you and all others.
On the bike, keeping safe distance it’s easy, but I’m saying, when we meet in the west side parking lot, greet one another with voice but no physical contact. It’s always a good idea, but especially now, do not touch another person’s bike.
The recipe for shifting from discontent to contentment is simple:
- Ride to Prospector Park in A.J., a 12 minute ride from Superstition HD.
- Walk to a corner of the park and pause in quiet space.
- Breathe deliberately for 10 minutes.
- Walk back to bikes and stretch.
- Go home.
Link to info on the ride: https://www.facebook.com/SuperstitionHD/videos/1034031243636948/… read more...
Thank you @omyogamagazine April issue, for publishing “Clearing Space,” #yogainspirationals number 96. It’s appropriate to our situation as the virus is doing its best to make us do the work of the niyamas. In “Clearing Space,” I cite the writing of San Francisco based yoga teacher, musician, and leader @janetstoneyoga, who spoke of this work as being an inside job in her newsletter from December, 2019, “Unwrapping Your Gifts, Healing Family Wounds.” “Buckle up, it’s not for the faint of heart,” she wrote. In the US, we have lots of buckling up to do. Friends . . . Clear Space, and do it now before its too late.
And here’s an example of how we use this space for renewal. Dave Swenson, brother of my long-time friend Lee Swenson, couldn’t gig tonight for St. Patrick’s Day, so he did a 40 something minute concert from the porch of his home in Iowa and streamed it to people in the US and afar. This is something to like about people: developing ways to renew self and others in the social distance space we’ve suddenly fallen into. Way to go Dave Swenson.
Here’s a link to Irish and Scottish music from fiddler Dave in Iowa. .https://www.facebook.com/dave.swenson.33/videos/10221681855654385/UzpfSTExOTQ1NjA2NzQ6MzA2MDYxMTI5NDk5NDE0OjEwOjA6MTU4NTcyNDM5OToyOTUyNTUyMzcwNDg4ODU5MDk3/
OM Yoga Magazine has just released their March issue including the 85th of my #yogainspirationals. Thank you OM Yoga Mag.In the Phoenix east valley, this magazine arrives two weeks after publication in the UK. In each issue you'll find yoga insights in these areas: OM Body, OM For Men, OM Fashion, OM Mind, OM Spirit, OM Living, OM Family, OM Actions, OM Teacher Zone, OM Travel. Check it out.… read more...
In the yoga tradition of reverence for life, SAT SONG provides music for participation in a magnetic blending of East and West grounded in the language of soul. Through song chant and breath focus, repetitive words and musical phrases are well-suited to accompany yin yoga classes along with yoga workshops, events, retreats, music events, and festivals. SAT SONG is Gregory Ormson (G) and Soumya (Somi) Parthasarathy.
Somi comes from a long line of yoga and classical Indian music; Somi studies Indian classical music in Chandler, Arizona and practices Astanga style yoga. She enjoys blending traditions in music, lending her voice to raise songs of the soul. G teaches yoga and has practiced music instruments and vocal from the time he joined a choir at 10. He studies sitar at the SPK Classical Indian Music Academy in Chandler, Arizona.
The words SAT and SONG, in Sanskrit and English respectively, suggests the nature of hybrid music provided by Somi and G ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————-Contact information for SAT SONG: firstname.lastname@example.org; 808-640-4624; #motorcyclingyogiG; @GAOrmson.
Video and photography at the Salt River by Randy Anagnostis; recording by Raven Studios, Mesa, Arizona.… read more...
Piano, photography, and videography by the talented Randy Anagnosis. He’s been an east coast marketer, recording artist, and now photographer for Superstition Harley Davidson. Anagnosis’ first CD was “Dreams,” c 1996, sold in hundreds of yoga studios. A second piano-driven album was “Full Moon Rising.” He also did a jazz album, “Thunder and Light.”
Video courtesy of Anagnosis, and Superstition Harley Davidson. Thanks to all the bike and yoga folks that showed up too. #motorcyclingyogiG
“There was something about the way he played his Stratocaster that made it seem otherwordly.” –Eric Clapton on Jimi Hendrix
My sitar flows in 19 bands of light: their names are baaj, chikari, and tarab. Its journey to my hand is a mystery, but its music-medicine came to my doorstep from an old land, gripped me from the eons, and pulled my soul into its orbit. It’s a path unlike any other, bending more than notes. A musician friend and professor said, “Its all angles.”
Saraswati dances, sitar bends, and because I’ve heard its music and felt it in my chest I participate in its step. This step is toward the depths and from them rises a watery siren-song of the fathoms.
Sitar music is a never-ending river, shepherding me to a place close and yet far away. My teacher speaks in common tones and offers up clusters of daring: “Consistency, consistency, consistency,” she says. Her words; the kernel of all learning, teaching, and the core of every guru’s curriculum.
I’ve seen the rivers of India, but I can’t put myself and my sitar on their banks; but once at dusk, on a hot July night, I made my way with this rosewood, gourd, string & steel riddle to the banks of the Salt River in east Phoenix to listen. There, I realized sitar will not accompany me without shepherding along a river of souls.
Looking to the Salt, I could almost see a funeral pyre float past; a desert inspired mirage bobbing with the current, like a lazy raft ablaze in flames, scented smoke and grief trailing behind.… read more...
See you at Superstition Harley Davidson Jan. 8 and Jan. 22.
Stretch Ride on Jan. 26.
Check Superstition Harley Davidson events page on Facebook or their Website for current information on all events.… read more...
Hear “When I Get Back to Marquette,” and “Mescalero Territory.”
Russell Thorburn, NEA recipient, is the author of four books of poems. His last book, Somewhere We’ll Leave the World, was published by Wayne State University Press. Currently he is producing and directing his one-act play Bomb Shelter for Black Box Theater at Northern Michigan University, where he teaches composition. It will premiere March, 2020, and includes original music for the end of the world that never happened in the sixties. www.russthorburn.com
Gregory Ormson, writer and musician living in Arizona, has collaborated with Thorburn over the last decade on word and poem projects. He writes on music, yoga, motorcycling, and landscape.
“Mescalero Territory” Lyric and voice, Russell Thorburn. Sitar, Gregory Ormson, engineered at Gummersound Studio, Marquette, Michigan. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7CJeFLGYOO8YVB0NjFQSUFhR0dJV09kSjlVZ2daTk5uYU9Z/view?usp=sharing
“When I Get Back to Marquette” Russell Thorburn, Marquette, Michigan lyric; Gregory Ormson, Mesa, Arizona, music, guitar, vocal, and lyric adaptation; Mike Bjella, clarinet, Montreal, Quebec; Peter Gummerson, Marquette, Michigan, sound engineering. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CiqMkl6W9OOuS82qWe-LASo3ytH_FNLw/view?usp=sharing
Check out my 83rd published yoga article, “Yoga’s Outliers,” in the January, 2020, Om Yoga and Lifestyle magazine. Better yet, get the mag.
“Men are still the minority when it comes to yoga in the West. They are yoga’s outliers,” says Gregory Ormson.
Read MORE below …
“Yoga’s Outliers” is a featured story along with an interview of London based international yoga teacher Sarah Highfield (#yogagise), Ibiza detox retreats on the Balearic islands off the Spanish east coast, and special coverage of vegan recipes and much more for the learning yogi. Thank you #OmYogaMagazine #yogainspirationals 83.read more...
Thanks Superstition Harley Davidson for this 80 second video. See how yoga is similar to, but has one important difference from other movement oriented activities like motorcycling, judo, and ballet.… read more...
The December 2019 Om Yoga Magazine has published “Silence and Slow Time,” the 82nd of my published yoga articles under (#yogainspirationals). Thank you OM. Also see in this fine 114 page issue features on yoga at home and office, aromatherapy, meditation, breath work (pranayama), body positivity, and many more necessary reads for your yoga practice. In addition, as an end of year bonus OM Yoga Magazine has included a 2020 calendar and a 50 page insert on “incredible yoga retreats from around the world.” I’m honored to be a regular contibutor for OM Yoga and Lifestyle Magazine.
“Rough Road? Breathe . . .” Just published in H.O.G. Magazine. I’ve been reading H.O.G. Magazine since 2002 when I joined the national H.O.G. organization. This is the first time they’ve ever published a story on yoga, or yoga for riders. H.O.G. riders and all of us realize the times are a changin’ and if we are fluid we’re better able to adapt. Breathing well and being fluid is what we do in yoga. Check it out bikers. Thanks to H.O.G., (ed., Matt King), and Superstition H-D in Apache Junction, AZ.
Motorcyclists love to ride, they want to ride longer, and they want to ride skillfully. That’s why I started Yoga & Leather: Yoga for Bikers at Superstition Harley Davidson in Arizona. The story is now published in issue 51 of H.O.G. (Harley Owner’s Group) magazine in digital format accessed by HOG members.
Two pages of the hard copy I’ll pass it along here. Thank you Matt, ed., H.O.G. Magazine. Get your copy of H.O.G. magazine for updates from the world of H.O.G. and Harley-Davidson. it includes riding tips, vintage bike notes, mechanical advice, riding tales, and stories of the next ride.
Over the last 15 months, Soumya and I have been practicing music of the soul by working on bhakti music, blending traditions of the East and West. Our band Sat Song (truth song) has a first event Thursday night in Tempe. We’ll perform for the 10 year Anniversary Celebration of the Arizona Interfaith Power and Light organization. This is an organization demonstrating much needed cooperation and respect in our day of division along religious and cultural lines. I’m pleased to be part of this event. Wish us well!
Schedule change for November YOGA & LEATHER.
I’m pleased to have an invitation from OM Yoga and Lifestyle (magazine) Colchester, UK, to be a regular contributor, specifically, the OM Spirit section dealing with the spirituality inherent in yoga.
As a lifelong researcher of spiritual perspectives from around the world, I practice an ongoing evaluation of the esoteric. I’ve learned to be critical of every spiritual perspective yet remain open to the testaments of everyone’s perspective.
Theologians evaluate spiritual grounding by looking at the context of any spirituality. They call this discipline hermeneutics, which is a questioning and critical posture regarding: religious assumptions about humanity, spirituality’s inspirations, its leadership, and its goals.
But the most important aspect of critical thinking is that it can deliver us from the trap of believing that my culture – or my perspective – is the center of the world. This may open us to see both the wisdom and folly of our religious or spiritual background.
A hermeneutic evaluation means one is always suspicious of the texts and traditions from any school of thought. It leads one to dig in and find out what the text or tradition is really saying to the individual and the community, and then to ask if it squares with the entirety of what one knows deep down in their bones.
Hermeneutics questions every spiritual perspective and what it says about culture, religious leadership, and society. You have a question about yoga and spirituality? Send it to me, I’m looking for ideas to write about for OM Yoga and Lifestyle.
Move and breathe with ease and attention to experience peace and relaxation
Hello everyone, here’s Analysa, one of the Rez Riders Angels, demonstrating the anjali mudra this past weekend on my bike. Notice she’s at ease. To be at ease on a motorcycle and in life is what we practice at YOGA AND LEATHER: Yoga for Bikers.
In our session this week, you’ll learn what this pose symbolizes and what means when yogis bring their hands together in front of their heart. You’ll also learn why yoga classes use this posture in class or at the end of class.
The anjali mudra (hands together) has to do with connecting the inner and outer self. Here, you see the left and right palms meeting at the center of being (the heart). There’s a lot more too, but I’ll save that for Wednesday.
I’m asking you to try this experiment sometime. When you are waiting at a stoplight – whether on a motorcycle, in a vehicle, or on a bicycle – tune into how you are feeling in your body. I’d almost be willing to bet that you will notice tightness. This might be in your shoulders or neck, maybe in your jaw, or you may even feel strain in your eyes.
We may think we are not under stress, but if it’s all around us, it’s hard to avoid and while we perceive stress in our minds, we feel it in our bodies. Yoga treats the body in order to treat stress.… read more...
- The practitioner is ATTENTIVE to breath while focused on the process of asana and quiet.
- In movement, consciously linked to breath, we produce the rhythmic effect of life. It’s what humans have done for centuries; and therein lays yoga’s simple yet profound magic: breath in movement and rhythm.
- When a yogi comes home to their breath-centric core they kiss the soul to receive their full inheritance.
- At the center point, breath is the building of consciousness and through breath in heightened consciousness, jettisoning old scripts, the yogi constructs a personal story of renewal formed by inspiration.
- A breath focus narrows the gap between body and mind so that when the yogi concentrates on the physical act of breathing, the mind comes into the here and now.
- Breathing is both automatic and responsive to signals.
- Anyone can relieve tension within the body by using breath.
- Vinyasa is really about breath directed by asana.
- The all-encompassing breath within (samana vayu) circulates from the solar plexus in the middle of the body and contributes to healthy metabolism and digestion.
- Breath movement is secondary muscular movement.
- Pranayama (breath management) is a “calm and lucid entrance into the very essence of life.” M. Eliade
- When yoga teaches us to breathe with ease and move in awareness, and when we learn to arrive at a pose – and life – with equanimity, that memory is lodged as experience in the body. In this way, yoga’s therapeutic is embodied and forges a connection between the physical and non-physical. It works by calming the body to treat agitation driving the monkey mind, for while stress is perceived in the mind it is felt in the body.