A few months ago, I took this photo of Shipra Saraogi on my bike in Usery Mountain Regional Park, just north of Mesa. Shipra is a yoga teacher and performance artist from New York. The photo, along with others, goes with my story on yoga for bikers, which Yoga Magazine features in their July issue. Thank you Yoga Magazine and Dr. Malik for seeing how yoga helps all of us stay in the saddle – or on it!… read more...
Every day, evaluate your riding. It’s a habit I picked up from my days as a MSF rider/coach in Hawaii. I’d tell students one way to improve is to ask themselves how they did on the road when they were home and the bike was parked. And then I started doing that in a deliberate way.
When I looked honestly at my riding, I noticed that I made mistakes. Mostly, they were mistakes of assumption or judgment. I’d assume too often that the person in the right-turn lane really was going to make a right turn. Sometimes auto drivers change their minds at the last minute (can you believe it) and veer into another lane. If you are in that lane, riding alongside them, you might be hit. I’ve assumed too many times and there is my point.
It’s not hard to evaluate our riding, and if you need an idea, imagine you have a 16 year old son or daughter taking up riding and one day they ask you for riding tips.
Do you have some to share … and I mean fresh tips? If not, it may be time to re-evaluate your assumptions and actions. Believe me, I’m not a perfect rider, but I’m working at getting better by ongoing evaluation.
Skill development is important, but even more important is judgment on the road. We may think we have great riding skills that allow us to get out of dangerous situations, but the rider with great judgment skills is better prepared for the road because their judgment will not let them get into a situation where they have to rely on great riding skills for escape.… read more...
For National Poetry Month, the last four lines from “If You Knew.”
What would people look like
If we could see them as they are;
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?
Thank you BAD YOGI MAGAZINE for publishing yogainspirationals 75. Read and share.
Thank you BAD YOGI MAGAZINE for publishing my 75th #YogaInspirationals.
This one is not an easy read, and not many places wanted to take it. But the editor agreed with me that sometimes a publisher ought to also challenge a reader, and not just feed them simple cookie-cutter articles like so many we see today e.g., “5 Ways to (whatever).”
If we stop expanding our vocabulary, quit reading to learn, or forego seeking out something new, our lives can easily fall into a rut. Then the mind and body go on autopilot and the spiral down begins.
Thank you to Bad Yogi Magazine, joining the following 15 publications sharing my visions of yoga, music, and wellness: Om Yoga and Lifestyle Magazine, Asana Journal, Yoga International, elephant journal, Yoganect, Sivana East, The Health Orange, Hello Yoga, TribeGrow, DoYouYoga, Yogi Times, Seattle Yoga News, The Yoga Blog, Boa Yoga and ArizonaRiderSouthwest.
Thank you #YOGANECT for publishing yogainspirationals number 74.
During my seventh year practicing yoga I started learning the sitar.
Immediately I realized it was a hard instrument to play and its technology is ancient: there’s a huge gap between frets and the strings which are painful on the fingers; the metal sitar pic winds tightly on the finger and pinches; the instrument’s lightweight strings go out of tune easily and there are 21 of them; but most of all, the traditional playing style requires sitting on the floor with the left leg crossed under the right while the sitar neck rests over the right thigh with the sound gourd perched on top of the left foot. This position is hard on the left knee, back, legs, hips, and both ankles.
At one point during my practice in the last few months, I started doing yoga before playing. I needed to set my legs, hips, and back at ease. When I did this first, I realized I could sit longer and concentrate better and my yoga practice tied directly to sitar practice became my daily ritual.
This two-step approach to sitar practice – beginning with yoga – became my entre into the world of classical Indian music. I now view yoga as my commencement ritual, and I won’t even try playing sitar without first doing yoga, or at the very least, until after breath work. Yoga and sitar, including savasana, tune me up for my day; now I hesitate to go out in public before this commencement.
A NEW TAKE ON AN OLD SKILL
I sang in a boys’ choir at age 10 and once performed with a small group at the World’s Fair in New York at age 11.… read more...
“Conducting the Awesome: What I’ve Learned from 7 Years of Hot Yoga” is live on elephant journal.
This is my 11th article for elephant journal since September, 2014, and the latest installment (73) of what I call YogaInspirationals, a collection of my yoga writing published by elephant and 12 other national and international magazines, Websites, and public social media sites.
I write lyric nonfiction and hybrid, and right now I’m pitching my latest work – a hybrid nonfiction piece – on drumming, and things that happen when I go to a rustic cabin in northern Wisconsin I share with my brothers. I call that place Oz no matter what roads I take to get there. It’s Oz to me even without a wizard, a Toto, or a Dorothy.
Thank you for comments, support, resharing, etc., Let’s keep on conducting the awesome in yoga, in writing, and in life.
Once upon a time a mystical movement became water and moved from east to west. The gurus of this movement dreamed it would take root, grow, and change people in the new land. A bold vision drove their mission; they were certain and sure. The gurus taught students but were confused by them. They were tall, loud, and rich, but they listened to their gurus and absorbed the way of wisdom and ancient discipline.
The gurus were overwhelmed by bright neon lights and an infant culture. They misplaced prayer beads and lost their way. Their movement danced and shape-shifted. It wasn’t what the gurus expected but better than they could have hoped for. In a short time, the practice prospered.
Many in the new land feared it, but someone discovered it was good for prisoners, alcoholics, the sick, those suffering pain, and even angry youth. The rich and healthy began to think that perhaps the gurus offered good medicine.
Western teachers, overlooking spirituality of the way, taught their version. The culture moved fast, like a river’s rapids. Westerners, motivated by money, fed off the illusion of freedom. The west land had great diversity and creativity; and when coupled with entrepreneurial spirit, energy drinks, and ambition, yoga flowed across the land. This was, after all, the guru’s original vision.
The movement became a symbol of youth, change, and the culturally hip. Athletes and celebrities endorsed the practice and photographs of yogis posed in peacock asana were featured in glossy magazines, billboards, and Instagram glossies.
But the Eastern gurus’ mystical remnant became a vanishing dream, a memory from a place and time long past.… read more...
Thank you OM Yoga and Lifestyle magazine (UK) for publishing my 72nd YogaInspirational, “Traveling OM,” December, 2018
By Dr. Gregory Ormson
THE POWER OF OM: rediscovering the deep, abiding peace of coming home in a frantic world.
“We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion-year old carbon…” Lyrics from the song Woodstock suggest that we are made of cosmic energy and matter. We have a hard time believing it because there are very few places that affirm such a grandiose and luminous being. But when we yoga, we participate in a pattern that moves the stars, and positions us to touch an inner OM at the core of our being.
In a soft chant of OM, rooted and expressed from the core, our cares are set free. Then we note our deepest truth: we are beings at one with a divinely animated critical mass of stardust and carbon waiting to meet and welcome us home.
But cultural voices bombard us with an unending cacophony of negativity and dismissal. This poisonous milieu is designed to make us feel small and inadequate, serving us from a menu of strife and anxiety. News and current events can leave us feeling like we’re a nonsignificant cog in a great drama that’s happening elsewhere.
The world is effective at labeling and objectifying. It does so with convenient categories submitted for fast indexing and stereotyping: age, race, sex, job, income, and education level. But a mountain is more than a geode, a river more than an eddy, men and women more than insignificant pieces of something more important.… read more...
Plan now. Don’t miss MOTTO yoga’s 5th Yoga Temple workshop on Sunday, January 13. Special guest presenter Mr. Marlon Darton, former Mr. Universe. Marlon knows what it takes to sculpt mind and body. Hear his story and learn how to keep not only New Year’s Resolutions but NewLife
In a lifetime practice, the yogi inhabits a ritual container where they are steeped in hours of wordless, focused being. This fortunate choice of assembly over disassembly shapes them through a soul dialysis that cleanses.
Their inner fire is animated by breath and stilled in meditative gaze. Their embodiment of asana and mobilization of prana rises anew in the “fierce breath” of simhasana. This breath elevates sleepy diaphragms and makes avatars of humans.
Yogis come to know their practice braids them to a light not of this world, and their time on the mat is not like the rest of life; neither is a yoga class just another class but a life-saving reclassification of the nature of being, steeped in a history of insight, and grown from the dimensions of meditation and mindfulness.
Yoga as moral and physical compass is revealed in stages as the yogi begins with sankalpa, or solemn vow for practice. Step by step through intention and awareness, the yogi encounters the core tenants of hatha which bring them to self. There, hand in glove with self and the philosophical satyagraha of the practice, the yogi is transformed.
Yoga for Bikers is restarting Nov. 14, at 4:30 in the Eagles’ Nest at Superstition Harley Davidson. One Wednesday a month, riders and anyone interested will gather for simple movement and breath work. This beginner level class is open to anyone. This is offered to riders because when sitting a long time on the bike, it helps to move and open up the areas where we feel tightness: hips, shoulders, and neck. The purpose is to keep riders in the saddle by working gently toward flexibility and balance.
The new aspect of Yoga for Bikers this year will be a one-time per month ride to a second location. There, yoga teacher and former Motorcycle Safety Foundation rider/coach, Gregory Ormson, will show how riders can use their bikes as props in what we are calling the “Stretch Ride.”
We’ll start with a few simple breathing exercises, and then use the bikes to help us stretch. The entire class will only be 30 minutes. We’ll keep it fun and practical so you can do these stretches on your own whenever you stop.
The first stretch ride will be on Nov. 25. Meet at Superstition HD at 10:30, ride out to the Butcher Jones Recreation Site where we’ll park the bikes and use them in simple movements. If you don’t have a bike, don’t worry; they are big enough for two. After that, riders are on their own to enjoy the rest of the day but armed with some new ideas on how to stay in the saddle.
SUPERSTITION HARLEY DAVIDSON FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/2283158711912197/
We’ll see you on the 14th at 4:30 in the Eagles’ Nest, and the 25th at SHD at 10:30.… read more...
Asana is the body of yogic truth, and individual expression of yoga’s eight limbs reveals the efficacy of its healing medicine. Yogis breathe deeply in yoga and experience a perceptual shift. This new vision opens to the sacred horizon at which we gaze, and the shift – formed in concentration and attention – purifies our dysfunctional self by transmuting negative poison.
Asana and breath follow and yogis learn to re-route any short-sell of self. These elements move us from the core where a magnanimous grounding in the foundational principles (of yoga) proves yogis can handle the dreadful deceits and misapprehensions of our avidya (misperceptions and their consequences).
Asana, and the individual embodiment of asana, is made for flawed and taut souls; its work is to release the human beings caught in a play – sometimes not of their own making – as through asana yogis are welcomed into the practice of ease and steadiness . . . where they begin with the exhale.
Following the exhale, and its gentle massage of the nervous system, yogis take the deep inhale and their bendable habit grows to a lifetime practice. We keep on keepin’ on and stand in true presence where feet meet the ground.
Blossoming directly into self-care, yogis open like the petals of a lotus in a soft rain, and through the soul dialysis in yoga’s energy exchange, every samskara (action with intention) is transformed.… read more...
YogaInspirationals number 72 #motorcyclingyogiG
I remind myself that in spite of the surrounding maladies, I must manage to hope. I also counsel myself, and anyone who will listen, that the yoga we do is not just a hobby or something to fill up the time; rather, it is the door through which happiness and joy enter into an arena where we share a divinity that transforms stories from iatrogenic to generative.
I WALK to my bike and notice my heart rate speed-up. Life shifts as I throw my leg over and sink down into the soft leather seat. I push the start button and feel the frame twist. I squeeze the throttle and a rumble opens the throat. I plan a casual ride; leaving the driveway, I start slow.
I’m at ease and positioned at a red light ready to merge onto the highway. Seeing the green arrow, I squeeze the throttle and gravity thrusts me back against the seat. Testing the Milwaukee iron, I feel the wind buffeting my face.
Two lanes converge and I jump to the 202. The green blinker light on the chrome instrument panel communicates my intention. A small white car in the next lane moves left, so I shift lanes and lean into gravity; in seconds, I’m slip-sliding past the car at 80 mph.
We’ve see them on the highway in stale containers messing with their cell phones and Cheetos while squinting through dirty windows. We sit over power and ride into the wind. Our hands and arms are engaged – NO DISTRACTIONS – as we listen to the language of the big twin’s explosions.
Ahead of me, a black truck is spilling small rocks from its bed. I squeeze the throttle and my back hugs the leather seat. The engine’s roar quickly sends me past the hazard. I sink deeper and notice the sound. It’s a sound I enjoy, and a smile crosses my face as I decipher a language fueled by a rich mixture of heat, highway, and Harley.… read more...
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...
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.
Workshop at MOTTO YOGA, Sunday July 29, 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm.
7529 S. POWER RD. Suite 101, QUEEN CREEK, ARIZONA 480-819-YOGA
Pre register for this two-hour workshop at www.mottoyoga.com
Participants in this workshop will engage the dynamic force of their own breath – yoga’s therapeutic – through breathing exercises and healing sound, asana linked to focused pranayama, presentation and dialogue, and experimental movmement with rhythmic breathing. During the workshop, yogis will be positioned to encounter self in the ground of their being (BREATH) in their own way.
This 4th Yoga Temple workshop continues the theme of yoga as an embodiment of spirit.
The workshop will unfold as:
PART I 20-30 minutes engagement with the theme including physiology and philosophy through dialogue and presentation.
PART II 50-60 minutes practice with pranayama sets – some will be new to students but completely accessible.
** INCLUDING A TIP FROM ONE OF OUR YOGI’S WHO GREW UP IN INDIA.
SOMETHING THAT EVERYONE IN INDIA DOES IN YOGA BUT WE DO NOT FOLLOW HERE IN THE US. COME TO THE WORKSHOP TO LEARN OF THIS IMPORTANT PRANAYAMA INSIGHT. .
PART III 20-30 minutes of moderate asana with attentive breath focus
These activities will put yogis in touch with pranayama in new and even life-changing ways by:
- a therapeutic experience by engagement with presentation and breathing experiences
- silence and breath hold
- sound (soft volumes) gong, bowl, drum beat, music (recorded and live)
- movement linked to breath
SEE YOU at MOTTO yoga on Sunday, July 29, 1:00 pm for Yoga Temple Workshop #4.
Your hosts for Yoga Breath, Breath of Life
Gregory Ormson came to yoga from a background in athletics, teaching, and spiritual studies.… read more...
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...
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 forges a connection between the physical and non-physical. It works by calming the body to treat the monkey mind and anxious spirit, for while stress is perceived in the mind it is felt in the body.
If you are looking for new ways to cope in a world that’s increasingly distressed and dangerous, yoga can be your calm amidst rough seas, your shoreline of sanity, and your balm in Gilead.
MOTTO YOGA, Queen Creek, AZ.
Gregory Ormson, #motorcyclingyogiG , YOGA and LEATHER, yoga for bikers at Superstition Harley Davidson… 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.
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.
” . . . 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...
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...
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...