Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Hero's Journey


I was talking with a good friend last night about the nature of time and how it can be so malleable and shifty. You can live out an epic adventure in a minute's worth of sleep, or learn more about yourself in five minutes of a mushroom dream than you did in the previous twenty years. Or conversely, how that last hour of work at a job you hate can feel like a week.

I told him how I've come to see my daily yoga practice as a complete lifecycle lived out on the mat. I begin every practice completely new — I'm not the same person that was standing at the top of the mat yesterday. My mind is different, my body is different. I can't expect to perform "better" than I did the day before. All too often I've entered into practice with some sort of expectation, only to have it wiped away two sun salutations in, finding energy where I thought there was none, or lacking flexibility that was there just hours before.

Over the course of that two hours, I'll experience a Campbell-esque hero's journey, from the "call to adventure" as I wake up out of bed, to the "crossing of the threshold" as I step on the mat and intone the first sound, "OM", signalling the beginning of a voyage into an unknown realm. Here we encounter the "road of trials" — the first struggles we either overcome, or fail to but continue anyway. Even the end of practice, Savasana, is a symbolic death. When we return to the top of our mat in seated position, close our eyes, hold our hands in prayer and chant "OM" once again, we are reborn, transformed and renewed.

We can then leave our mats and re-enter the world, having drunk the elixir of life, "the ultimate boon" of Campbell's archetype, having found union within, and without ourselves.

*********************

Namaste,
Brian




Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Opening Up

According to Haida legend, hummingbirds bring joy and healing.
My life has recently been blessed with scores of these birds and all that they bring.
Photo by Raincoast Photo

This is the first post of the next phase of the blog where it will be less about the specifics of my own practice. It's also getting a bit tedious to log each and every practice session. I'll keep that stuff to my personal journal from here on in.

It's a good time to make this shift, as an interesting shift in my practice has emerged over the past few days. Last Thursday I received an Ayurvedic massage treatment from my friend Asrael (check out her blog here) that facilitated the stirring up and subsequent clearing of a lot of stored emotional and physical energy. It was very powerful and moving, and I think it took a few days for me to find my grounding again. This morning however, I found myself approaching my practice with a feeling of irreverence. It sounded like an odd word to use, but it's the first word that came to mind when Deborah asked me how I was doing. After we talked a bit, it became clear that it was actually very appropriate.

It feels like I've moved from this phase of holding the Ashtanga practice up in an almost detached reverence, and into a phase where it feels more integrated into my being. I think that irreverence is a reflection of how the practice has become a part of my life, one that feels very natural and necessary. I've put in the time and dedication, and it's proven itself to me — I now no longer need proof of it's efficacy. I joked to Deborah that it's almost like in a relationship, how at the beginning you're putting your best self forward, treading very carefully and deliberately with your new lover — and now we (me and Ashtanga) are at the stage where we're leaving the bathroom door open.

This newfound comfort and ease opened up a new level of awareness to the subtler aspects of the asana practice and led to a moment of enlightenment about release and trust while working on Baddha Konasana. I still have pretty tight hip flexors and groin and I'm always challenged with wide-legged forward bends. While cultivating this particular pose it became clear to me that I needed to learn to speak directly with my hip flexors. I have no trouble finding the full extension of the close-legged forward folds like Paschimottanasana, but as soon as I start to fold while my legs are open, my hip flexors instinctively tighten up and put on the brakes.

In order to progress, I need them to relax and let go, and to trust that I'm not going take them further than is safe. It means opening up a dialogue with a body part that I have never had a positive relationship with — I've only ever cursed my "tight hips" for not letting me obtain certain postures. This is completely unfair to my hips! They were there for me when I needed them to propel me on my bike, or protect me when I was straining my back. It's my fault they're tight now. So asking them to work for me now is a challenge — a bit like trying to get your baby toes to move at will.

Normally, you never need to cultivate a relationship with them, so when you try to talk to them — to spread all of your toes in Samasthiti for example — it takes a lot of practice.

Of course it does... you're creating (or at least re-paving) new neural pathways and building a relationship with your body on a deeper level. This is yoga. At least the physical union aspect. It also serves as a wonderful living example of how important it is for us to integrate our psyche. To maintain a healthy dialogue with all aspects of our selves. Not necessarily just the ones we like the most.

And that's really what happens during a healing ceremony or treatment like the one I had on Thursday. It can be uncomfortable, and even scary when we start to peer into the darker, more hidden parts of our psyches, and when we don't shy away and we engage with them, it can trigger some pretty emotional responses (It's no surprise that the most profound release during my massage was when Asrael was working on my hips and lower back. Coincidence? Not likely). It's at the end of this long, dark, tearful journey however, where we can find true healing. And it's here where we learn that it's possible for us to heal ourselves and to heal our lineage.

We all possess this ability, but in our culture we never learn how, or are given the opportunity to awaken this dormant part of our selves. Instead, we learn how to ignore pain and trauma, to bury it deep inside, and are offered multitudinous ways with which we distract ourselves so that it never gets dug up. Just because you ignore it doesn't mean it's not there. It can show itself as diseases of the mind — anxiety, depression, anger, or as diseases of the body — ulcers, obesity, or all sorts of problems.

This is why I believe so strongly in the power of yoga, shamanism and a personal spiritual practice. It's through these ancient exercises that we can cultivate our inner healer. First by being healed, then by healing ourselves, then healing others, and eventually, teaching others how to heal themselves.


*********************

Namaste,
Brian


*The hummingbird I'm using for a new sign-off image is from a work by local Coast Salish artist Joe Wilson.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 45: Good eats.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Led Half Primary
7:00 – 8:30

Had a good practice today — plenty of energy and good mood in the studio. Lately, I've been debating on whether or not to write so specifically about the intricacies of my own practice, but I'll just say this: I got you in my sights Marichi!

One thing I do want to share with you is one of my favourite post-practice meals. Since devoting myself to daily asana practice, the direct correlation to my diet and how I feel on the mat at 6:30 a.m. has become increasingly clear. A clean, simple, nutritious diet not only feeds the body, but — when it's selected, prepared and consumed consciously — it nourishes the spirit.

Keeping the menu simple also allows me to track how the food is produced and how far it had to travel to get to me. It gives me the opportunity to contemplate where the food came from and who might have produced it — which allows me to fully appreciate everything I'm eating. Try tracing back where every ingredient comes from in a typical packaged food product. Impossible. Plus, by the time it gets to your plate, it's got little or no prana left. How is that going to give you the energy you need?



R.E.G.G.S. (Rice, eggs, greens)

This simple meal is great because it gives you everything your hungry body needs in one easy-to-prepare bowl. You get your whole grains, karma-free protein, dark greens, healthy oils and a bit of salt — and it's delicious.

• Make about a 1/2 cup of rice per person. I like basmati, but will mix it up with some short-grain brown or quinoa. I also like tossing in a dab of Ghee as it cooks.

• Steam a bunch of greens. The more the merrier, but generally I go for 'rule of thirds' mix. 1/3 greens to 1/3 rice to 1/3 eggs. Today I used local red kale, but will often use chard when we have it on hand. I like to either squeeze some lemon into the greens as they steam, or sprinkle some apple cider vinegar on them afterward. The acid really gives the whole dish a lift.

• Lightly scramble some eggs in a hot pan with some melted ghee. "Lightly" means mix the eggs just enough to break the yolks and cook just past runny. We buy our eggs from our neighbours — they make commercial eggs taste like rubber gardening clogs.

• In a deep bowl, lay down a bed of rice, layer on your greens (sprinkle the apple cider vinegar on at this stage if you're using it), and top with your eggs. I like to squirt on about 2 tablespoons of organic hemp oil, then add a couple twists of some nice local sea or himalayan salt.

Enjoy your R.E.G.G.S.!



*********************

Namaste,
Brian






Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 44: One Student, Many Teachers

If only I could personally thank all of the teachers on YouTube...


Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Mysore Practice
6:30 – 8:30 a.m.

Decent practice today. Still working up to Navasana then skipping to the finishing poses. I'm thinking of working out a "setlist" for the rest of the week that will include some of the poses further in the series that are currently within reach. I can then go back and fill in the blanks, so to speak, as I advance in my practice.

Most significantly, I was working on Sirsasana, or Headstand — particularly working on getting all the way up without the teacher there to help me balance. I was trying it against the wall, and it became apparent that I need some guidance on how to better approach the state of the asana, and that I may not be ready for the full expression of the pose.

Later — after I tiptoed home with bruised heels from repeatedly banging into the wall — I found a great step-by-step video by Kino MacGregor that cleared up a lot of the grey areas I had. It also showed me a way to progress into the final pose that removes the need for "jumping up" to the inversion, and that I think in the long run will build more strength and control. Thanks Kino!


It's such a gift to have all of these amazing videos by very experienced teachers available on YouTube. It allows us, as students and practicioners, to have access to an incredibly wide range of approaches to teaching the postures. Our own teachers may not have the same amount of experience as someone like Kino, or they may not know that secret key that you need to unlock the posture. Sometimes students need a specific trick, tip or technique to enable that click of the asana opening to them, and it's unreasonable to think that one teacher can know what's best for everyone they teach.


*********************

Namaste,
Brian






Monday, April 16, 2012

Day 42 & 43: Leaps and Bounds



Sunday, April 15, 2012
Anatomy Lab
8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
Hatha Flow w/ Michelle H.
10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Mindful Eating Exercise & Meditative Walk
12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Jumping/Floating Workshop w/ Michelle W.
2:00 – 4:30 p.m.


Monday, April 16, 2012
Foundations w/ Michelle W.
10:00 – 11:30 a.m.


As you can probably discern from the schedule above it's been a busy couple of days. I'll be working with a lot of what I learned in the Jumping/Floating workshop all week in practice, as I was able — with Michelle's encouragement and "Don't worry, I'll catch you if you're about to fall on your face" support — to unlock a few key elements that had been eluding me in my Vinyasa transitions. I'll be floating in no time, but for now, there will be a lot less wild donkey flailing in my jump-up and jump-backs.

This whole past week has been one of new breakthroughs and advances in my Ashtanga practice, which is encouraging and invigorating. I had hit a little bit of a wall a couple weeks ago where I was feeling a little worn out from the constant practice, but I seem to have shaken that off and have discovered a new well of strength and energy. My practice has never felt smoother, stronger or more graceful.

I have a feeling that this is a cycle that will keep repeating itself — like a rattlesnake that regularly sheds it's skin — emerging at the end of every molt bigger and shinier with an extra ring on it's rattle. Me? I crawl out from under the rock with some new bits of knowledge, a greater understanding of my mind and body, a little extra length in my limbs and torso, and maybe a few more laugh lines around my eyes.

I've never felt such extremes of being so physically energized followed by complete exhaustion, or so spiritually alive and mentally stimulated — and just plain happy — in my whole life. If this is what 43 days of Ashtanga can do for someone, I can't wait to see what the next 20 years brings.


*********************

Namaste,
Brian



Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 41: Killing it on Friday the 13th

All those Surya Namaskars we did this morning really worked!
She has been smiling on us all day...




Friday, April 13, 2012
Led Primary Series
6:30 – 8:30 a.m.


A short post today as I've been trying to enjoy as much as possible the wonderful spring sunshine we're currently being blessed with here in the Cowichan Valley. Practice this morning was probably my "best" Ashtanga practice yet. I seemed to be firing on all cylinders — my balance was really good, I felt strong and energetic and I found myself getting further into a number of asanas than I had been able to previously. After practice I had a great meeting with some wonderful new design clients, found some great deals at the thrift store and managed to fit in a motorscoot in the countryside. I don't know what it was, but this Friday the 13th has been stellar all around. I hope you enjoyed as much as I did!

*********************

Namaste,
Brian

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 40: Home Practice

Portraits of my own little Yin & Yang reminders.
I've got some pretty swollen and sore forearms from a tattoo session yesterday so I need to take the day off Mysore practice today. I'll instead be at home, working on a few postures and exercises that will help me in my Primary Series practice.

I've reposted some videos that I find really helpful for what I'm concentrating on today. Michael has a wonderful, clear and precise teaching style, with an emphasis on proper alignment and safety. He includes some adjustments that are particularly helpful if you have knee issues, like me.

I hope they help you as much as they help me!








*********************

Namaste,
Brian

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day 38, 39: You're a strange animal.

Okay, what now?


Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Mysore
6:30 – 8:30 a.m.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Half Primary Series
7:00 – 8:30 a.m.

Yesterday I was able to guide my own practice which was a nice treat. I haven't had many opportunities over the last month to have true Mysore-style morning practice, as there are often people very new to Ashtanga who need some leading. I love being able to slow down, working myself into poses that I'm focusing on, and then being able to settle in to let the pose do it's work on me. I also threw in some strengthening exercises during Vinyasa to help build myself up to floating.



Adding in these block-assisted "bump ups" as Jason calls them every Vinyasa built a lot of heat and sweat. It felt great, and I swear I noticed a difference in my led practice this morning. I was landing a lot lighter in my half jump throughs. Or maybe it was that banana I ate on the way to the studio, who knows.

I think using the blocks really helps you get over that mental block of thinking your arms are too short, that you'll never be able to flow through to Dandasana, whatever, and train your mind to believe that you can jump through, eventually. It's the same idea as the "Etch-a-Sketch" concept, that by being assisted — sometimes with great effort — into the full expression of a certain asana, it gives your body and mind an image or model of where you'll be able to — with time — go on your own, which then enables you to work towards that with clear purpose. It's also fun.

In case I haven't already posted David Garrigues' jump through exercises, here you go.



This coming Sunday we're doing a full day jump through, and jump back workshop, and I can't wait. As David alludes to in the above video, it's a really fun part of the practice that instills in us that animalistic dynamism that I love.

That animal essence is something that a lot of us lose touch with as we age. It's a shame because we all felt that playful, energetic quality as children. I believe that staying in tune with that animal nature connects us not only to our bodies, but to those other wonderful animal qualities like a heightened sensitivity to our surroundings and other beings, pure-hearted openness and honesty and being present in the now.

I'm looking at my two dogs snoozing away on the couch — not fretting over that fight they had at the dog park yesterday, not worried that they might have to go for a walk in the rain later. They're being completely present and content with where they're at right now, and I know that if I get the leashes out, they'll spring up, ready to take on whatever is coming with enthusiasm, open hearts and wagging tails. That's a pretty amazing way to be.


*********************

Namaste,
Brian




Monday, April 9, 2012

Day 35, 36, 37: Eight Arms to Hold You.

Practicing Yoga's Eight Limbs: your ego's not gonna like it. 




Saturday, April 7, 2012
Home Practice
9:00 – 10:30 a.m.
Intro to Ayurveda Workshop
1:00 – 3:30 p.m.


Sunday, April 8, 2012
Advanced Yin Yoga Workshop
1:00 – 6:30 p.m.


Monday, April 9, 2012
Mysore Practice
6:30 – 8:30 a.m.


Yesterday's Yin workshop could be described much like the yin postures themselves — long, deep, and "oh it hurts so good!". My hips were still singing at this morning's practice even after a long, near scalding salt bath last night. I still have so far to go with opening that area of my body, after so many years of sitting at a desk for most of the day, and riding hunched over on a bike for a good portion of the remainder. It's as though I am slowly and painfully undoing years of neglect and bad habits — like trying to loosen old mooring line knots that are soaked, dried and re-soaked over the years and have are bound like little monkey fists.

Along with the challenge of the physical unbinding, there's the difficulty of stirring up and dealing with old emotions, and as a whole, you need to cultivate a quality of stillness to even to sit in these poses for 10, 15 minutes. That in itself is a challenge for someone (me) that used to have a hard time sitting still.

The yin approach is a way to observe and practice Patanjali's Second Limb of Yoga — the Niyamas, or "observances" — particularly, for me, Santosa (contentment), and Svadhyaya (study of the self). Finding contentment in life's beautiful and carefree moments is relatively easy compared to the practice of being content when we are faced with challenges, external or internal.

When I'm deep in pigeon pose, riding the crest of my 'edge', feeling my hip fascia's tightness, my knee's sensitivity — my body barely bent over my pinwheeled legs, the rest of me supported by props and bolsters galore — and I happen to look up and see the slightly overweight, middle-aged woman across from me in full pigeon with her head draped serenely on the floor in front of her, and subtle moans of pleasure emanating from somewhere within — it can take a real concerted effort to steer my mind back to a place of contentment. To remind myself that we're all unique and one person's wilted pinwheel in another's proud pigeon, and to be happy and fine with where I'm at — without comparing myself to anything external, or even to where I was at yesterday. That to me, is observing Santosa. And a 5 1/2-hour Yin workshop provided plenty of moments to practice that.

Svadhyaya is another Niyama that can come up a lot in a Yin practice. It's often translated as the "study of the higher self", and can be related to those times that we remember and observe the true essence of our beings, which exists deep within us, hidden behind that pesky egoic mind that tries desperately to govern our lives and define our self image. As we work through these difficult external barriers, we can get bombarded with a cacophony of internal ego chatter — negative thoughts ranging from "why the hell am I doing this to myself?" to comparing yourself to others in the room — all of it I like to think of as the petulant child of the egoic mind, kicking and screaming as you put it in the corner for a few hours. It hates to be ignored, and even worse, fears that you might change or ignore it forever. When we are able to observe these thoughts for what they really are, and put them aside without judgement, we are actively studying our higher self — and it's our higher self that is able to be compassionate, loving and generous — all qualities we need more of. At the end of yesterday's workshop, there was nothing but a roomful of awakened beings, all basking in the glow of each other's higher selves. A wonderful way to spend Easter Sunday.

Now, for me, the real trick is to take that feeling, of what it is to exist as that higher self, and bring it out of the shala, into the world and practice it with my loved ones, my dogs, the guy tailgating me on the highway, and most importantly, with myself.


*********************

Namaste,
Brian

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Day 34: You are a sunbeam.

Thursday, April 5, 2012
Mysore
6:30 – 8:30 a.m.

Fantastic practice today. I was able to work on a number of things I'd been thinking about all week in much detail, finding some new keys to unlock the next level of at least two asanas. I'm pretty exhausted though, and am looking forward to 2 days off, tomorrow for the full moon day, and Saturday for our usual day off — although I may sneak in my own practice :-)

*********************



It's hard to believe that it's been 18 years since we lost Kurt Cobain so tragically. Contrary to what he might have thought about himself, and what the message of this deceptively sweet and pretty song conveys, I believe that he was a sunbeam, as we all are. His light shone intensely and unbridled, and his music served to heal so many thousands of others. Unfortunately, he didn't stick around long enough to find a way to channel that light into healing himself.

On days like today, I'm so grateful that I've been able to find ways to heal myself, and I live to find ways to help others discover that healing light within themselves.

Something to think about on this Easter weekend. The parable of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection can be interpreted in many ways, but I like to use it as a reminder that we all contain this inherent ability to heal ourselves, our lineages, and our karma. We just need to find techniques to look inward, release blockages and free ourselves from our egoic minds.

For me, it's a multi-faceted approach, and it's taken a lot of searching to find it — and it continues to be a journey — but I've seen (and felt!) the light, and it's powerful. The knowledge that it's inside of me, and not something I need to get from an external source, gives me such great comfort. It's like Clark Kent walking around with that big 'S' underneath his suit. Dude must have had such a swagger. No wonder he landed Lois Lane.

*********************

Namaste,
Brian

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Day 33: Reach For It Boy

Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Half Primary Series
7:00 – 8:30 a.m.
Hatha w/ Asrael
4:00 – 5:30 p.m.


Two great sessions today. I'm feeling lots of energy leading up to the full moon, and am making the most of it. I felt strong and smooth in my morning Ashtanga practice, and Asrael's gentler, slower class tonight really helped to ground and rejuvenate my heart center. I find the Ashtanga practice really prepares my body for other practices and allows me to enjoy them so much more. I'm able to let go and have fun with the poses, and I find my improved strength, flexibility and balance allows me to explore more intuitively and freely than I'd be able to with my physical body of just a few months ago.

It's like when I first started becoming technically proficient at the guitar and finding that I was able to express myself with more ease and fluidity when improvising. Only now my instrument is my body, and my guitar chops ain't what they used to be when I was practicing 8 hours a day.

Here's some stuff that inspired me today...



I thought this post (reproduced below) over on the Fearless Revolution blog was awesome and totally relevant to my life (and a lot of other people's lives these days) so I want to share it here. The author writes about how you can gain clarity on what your ideal, soul-fulfilling career is and how you can start to pursue it. The process that the author prescribes is very similar to how I decided to drop everything and pursue Yoga teacher training — a decision that has already benefitted and changed my life positively — and I'm not even teaching yet! Just the pursuit of my dream, after so many years of compromise, feels like a victory.

So, as lawyer and Civil Rights advocate Vernon Jordan (in the video above) recalls his mother telling him — when his life was going, by most standards, perfectly well, but he felt he was destined for something greater — "Reach for it boy, go for it".

*********************

Namaste,
Brian



Someone recently told me that the time he spent unemployed was the best six months of his life.
"What did you spend your time doing?" I asked. 
"I learned about things I was interested in, read a lot of nonfiction books, spent time with people who inspire me, played music, practiced leaning into fear, and spent a lot of time observing how people overcome fear," he said. "But then I had to get a real job." 
"Is your real job aligned with exploring these interests and leaning into fear?" I asked.
"Ummm... no. I work in analytics," he said.
"Have you ever thought that your 'real job' could be what you're passionate about?" I asked.
"Sort of," he said. "But isn't that unrealistic?"
As someone who's built a career helping people claim the lives they're meant to live, I couldn't help but obsessively think about how he could parlay his interest of "leaning into fear" into the work he does every day.
In our conversation, he demonstrated all the signs of someone who knows what he's passionate about and loves to do. But he didn't realize his own clarity. 
"But I don't really know what I'm passionate about," he said at one point in the conversation.
"Yes you do!" I said. "You just told me. You're obsessed with behavior change and the process of overcoming fear."  
This conversation reminded me of nearly every client I work with and every person I talk with about designing their ideal life. There's a gap between identifying what you naturally gravitate toward and gain energy from and how that translates into your full-time work. 
The process of closing that gap includes gaining clarity, taking action on what matters, and leaning into the fears that hold us back. 
It includes realizing that the greatest opportunity we have in life is the process of discovering what we love to do--and then dedicating our life accordingly. 
When we close that gap, we live a life where Mondays are celebrated as much as Fridays and "someday" is today.
Here are three steps that will help you gain internal clarity so you can plan toward your ideal future. 

1. Gain clarity around what to focus on. 

To gain clarity around how to spend your time in ways that energize you, so that you're as productive and happy as possible, Derek Sivers suggests asking yourself, "What do I hate NOT doing?" Meaning, what, if you don't do every day, makes you feel icky and off-track? 
Whatever it is--be it writing, designing, learning to program, asking questions, running five miles, reading non-fiction business books, spending time with loved ones, or meditating--make a list of the top 5 or so activities that you love and must do every day to feel like your best self. 
Now you know where to spend your time and energy. 

2. Define the world you imagine.

Of all the people I've met who are living their ideal life, true success has less to do with measuring up to an objective standard and more to do with working toward a larger ideal and better world. 
For a moment, forget about your family's image of you, your friends' perception of you, and what society at large seems to expect from you. You don't have to live how others expect you to and how you define your "real job" is up to you. 
So take 10 minutes and think about the ideal world you imagine. For example, I (the author of this article) imagine a world in which our potential is not governed by what we’re told we can and cannot do, but rather by our highest intentions and inner gifts. By knowing the world I envision, I know why I wake up every morning, it guides how I make decisions, and who I spend my time with. 
Now it's your turn. Write out the dream world you imagine, beginning with, "I imagine a world in which __________."
By painting this picture and defining your ideal, you'll create something bigger to work toward and you'll have a vision to share with others too. 
As Simon Sinek says, no one cares what you do, they care why you do it. 

3. Replace old thoughts with new ones.

We often carry around thinking patterns that no longer serve us or our dreams. 
"Who am I to do that?"
"That's not realistic."
"I don't know how to do it."
Guess what? You're the same as everyone else who's made something big happen, it's only unrealistic until you try, and you will figure it out. 
Write out a list of all the negative thoughts that are shaping your behaviors. Next to each thought, reframe it in a positive light. While the transformation may not happen immediately, our thoughts determine our attitude, our attitude determines our actions, and our actions determine our life. That's why being aware of what's holding us back is the first step toward change.
By doing these three exercises, you'll gain the internal clarity needed to make your dream world a reality and lean into fear, which we'll address next time. My aim is to provide you with the clarity and action steps to claim the life you're meant to live.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Day 32: Like Water



Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Mysore w/ Deb C.
6:30 – 8:30 a.m.

Today I found myself in a situation that I often experienced practicing Muay Thai at more than one gym when I was in Toronto and had the luxury of multiple choice — how to deal with differing, and sometimes conflicting instruction. Every teacher has their own unique path, and I've never met two that shared the same viewpoints on every subject. As a student, it can be a challenging situation to deal with because you're faced with an inner conflict and need to make a choice in the moment.

Today, I realized that from the teacher's perspective this may appear to be resistance or stubbornness, when in reality the student may be having to shift from how they were told to do something in the past to how you're asking them to do it today. What I resolved to do in these situations is to go with the flow, be flexible in my mind, and take whatever instruction or correction I'm being offered in that moment, understanding that I can always make the choice of what method to integrate into my own practice later.

There is always more than one way to do most everything, and very rarely is there a clear right or wrong way. Keeping an open mind in these situations allows us to fully receive what is being offered and who knows, maybe you need different corrections on different days. Or perhaps later on when teaching, I may need to offer a correction that differs from my preferred method to accommodate the individual needs of a student. Having a deep and varied library of knowledge will certainly come in handy, and the only way to build that resource is to be open, accepting and grateful for all that is being offered.


*********************

Namaste,
Brian

Monday, April 2, 2012

Day 31: Be Creative

10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Foundations w/ Michelle W.


Had a fantastic class today... it was a real joy to work outside of any particular sequence and explore some new postures, slowing things down, finding new ways into familiar postures, and generally having good clean, sweaty fun!

It got me thinking about the Richard Freeman video I posted yesterday where he mentions that he's excited to see how yoga is evolving with the times and becoming more syncretic in this creative age. I've been thinking creatively about my own practice lately and am looking forward to injecting my different interests, beliefs and particular brand of creative expression into my yoga teaching and class structure.

I think the spirit of the times right now is all about wildly mixing up cultures into whatever works for you.
The internet, a gigantic culture blender, has really facilitated and encouraged this — allowing the user to travel through time and space with the swipe of a finger, all of those wildly varied and previously unconnected experiences mixing and melding in the user's brain. Music, art, film and fashion — being reflections of the current culture — are full of mashups. If you subscribe to the idea that everything has been done before, perhaps the only way to create something original is to blend two seemingly disparate things into one new unique expression.

It always excites me to see something completely original (even if they wear their references or influences on their sleeves)— whether it's Die Antwoord, Nicholas Winding Refn's films, or David Lynch's new music (!) video. I don't especially enjoy this as 'music', but the pure exuberant originality of it excites the heck out of me — especially considering that most of Lynch's peers (if he ever had any) are settled into complacent creative old age. It's a great reminder that you can stay creatively relevant well into middle age, or beyond. It's the same feeling I get when I see older yoga masters continually evolving their practice and finding new ways to experience and teach yoga.

Be creative!



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Namaste,
Brian

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 30: Breathe



Sunday, April 1, 2012
8:30 – 10:30 Anatomy
10:30 – 12:00 Hatha Flow
12:00 – 1:00 Meditation
1:30 – 3:30 Posture Study

Whew! I'm fully exhausted after a busy day of learning and practice, so I'll leave you with this fantastic video I found over on the Ashtanga NY site of Richard Freeman speaking about what yoga is, how you learn from injuries, the importance of the breath, the role of the teacher in helping new students with practicing with intelligence and compassion, and what he sees for the future of yoga.

Brilliant, inspiring and affirming words from a real master. I look forward to one day studying with him. His way of teaching — in a sense showing students what an evolved practice looks like, and putting the breath before athletic contortion — sounds incredible, and seems like a great way to get older people into a safe, beneficial practice.




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Namaste,
Brian