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 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.
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...
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.
On Sunday, Feb. 11, we’ll hold the second of three YOGA TEMPLE workshops at MOTTO YOGA in Queen Creek (Power and German Rd).
I hope to see you… read more...
TITLE: YOGA TEMPLE: Embodying the Healing Grace of Yoga
WHAT: An integrative workshop series exploring Christian and Eastern thought / tradition. Workshops will embrace: asana, pranayama, philosophy, and experimental movement.
WHY: To address the inherent spiritual dimensions of yoga.
WHO: Anyone with questions about spirituality, faith, belief, and yoga.
WHERE: MOTTO YOGA, 7529 Power Rd. Queen Creek, AZ
Register at MottoYoga.com
January 14, Sunday NOON
Februray 11, Sunday NOON
March 4, Sunday NOON… read more...
TITLE YOGA TEMPLE: Embodying the Healing Grace of Yoga
WHAT An integrative workshop series exploring Christian tradition and yogic tradition.
WHY To address spiritual dimensions inherent in yoga.
WHO Anyone with questions about spirituality, faith, belief, and yoga.
As yoga awakens consciousness, spiritual questions come to the fore. It doesn’t have to be problematic, for while yoga comes out of the non-Christian context of India, India is not anti-Christian. Yoga embodies Christian spirituality in a way the Christian church has neglected.
The content behind the first workshop will (briefly) address:
- The thought (philosophy) behind our Western cultural inheritance
- The nature of consciousness
- The metaphysics of God
In 90 minutes, workshop participants are invited to: engage with spiritual themes, practice pranayama, and explore the theme in asana and other integrative movements deepening their experience of yoga as a body, mind, and spirit practice.
WHEN First Workshop is scheduled for Jan. 14, Noon to 1:30, followed by two others on:
Feb. 11, Noon to 1:30
Mar. 4, Noon to 1:30
WHERE Motto Yoga, Queen Creek, AZ.
These workshops on yoga and spirituality sound heady: the nature of consciousness, Western philosophical inheritance, the Metaphysics of God.
But in reality, the base idea is bringing us back to what we already are.
Yoga does this by reversing the familiar paradigm. For rather than accessing spirituality by mind or word, yoga takes the radical step of moving the entry point of spiritual practice to the body.
This is how yoga heals the broken of spirit and broken of body. By finding a time and place to come home and to re-member, to bring us back to ourselves.… read more...
In November, Amanda Kingsmith conducted an interview with me on YOGA AND LEATHER: Yoga for Bikers, the program we started in September at Superstition Harley Davidson in Apache Junction. Here is the link to that podcast where I speak about parallels between yoga and motorcycling and about how this started.… 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.
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...
YOGA FOR BIKERS: OUR bodies take a pounding on the road, and sometimes driving is stressful. But people do yoga because it feels good and it helps mind and body. Yoga isn’t just about flexibility, it’s about improving mobility to turn sideways and check our blind spot; about balance in slow turns, and remaining calm in the midst of stress. Over time, yoga strengthens our skeletal, muscular, and digestive systems.
Gregory Ormson, former Motorcycle Safety Foundation rider/coach and a 200-hr. registered yoga teacher, is offering three Yoga for Bikers classes at Superstition Harley Davidson in Apache Junction. Come to one, or all three, and find out how YOGA helps bikers RIDE ON!
DATES: Sept. 24 (Sun). 10:00 am – 10:55
Sept. 27 (Wed). 5:00 pm – 5:55
Sept. 30 (Sat). 10:00 am – 10:55
SUPPLIES: Limited supplies available. Bring a yoga mat, and wear comfortable clothing.
This is not an exercise class, but an introduction to yoga with a focus on motorcycle riders including basic poses as part of the experience.
Gregory Ormson, 808.640.4624
#motorcyclingyogiG… 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...
Recently, I rode my Harley-Davidson to an outdoor festival. For these events, the parking lot is often a large field with hidden land mines for bikes. Waiting in line to park, I watched people march toward the festival’s front gate from their cars after parking a long ways away. They walked slowly, heads hanging, shuffling their feet through Arizona dust and brown grass.
But when I turned my bike toward the parking lot, the festival’s parking security stopped me and said, “Why don’t you park over there next to the Hummer.” I took an immediate sharp left and found my place right next to the front gate. For bikers, this kind of thing happens a lot.
I parked my bike, walked over the security guard and said, Thanks brother. I appreciate it.
“No problem,” he said. “I’ve got you over there by my Hummer. I’ll keep an eye on it for ya. No need to park out there and get your bike all scratched up.”
Damn straight. Thanks again, I said, and walked across the street to the festivals entry gates.
Many of us have this experience. Hotel desk clerks will suggest we park our bikes up front under the lights so they can keep an eye on them. As riders, we like “Motorcycle Only” parking signs and they’re often in a good location. And while Harley-Davidson is in negotiation with the Milwaukee Brewers over an expired contract, the Milwaukee motorcycle manufacturer used to have a special Harley-Davidson seating section in Miller Park’s left field. The game ticket included a buffet, two-beers, and – of course – parking for bikes in the front row.… 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...
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.
I see them aching not just from the slings and arrows of misfortune, and the lance of gossip and backbiting envy.… 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...
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
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.
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.
Writing and Yoga
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.
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...