Dietary Observations

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Dietary Observations

The curse of social media is that we tend to avoid posting the negative stuff. January has been a rough month for me physically. In just three days of reexamining my recent dietary choices I feel significantly improved. As the habitual creatures we humans are, habits (both negative and positive) are created quiet easily but switching them tends to be slightly more challenging. Going to an alternative habitual behavior requires an intense level of resolve and focus, two qualities of a mindfulness practice.

The holidays tend to carry a certain level of inhibition and relaxed focus, particularly revolving around dietary decisions.

As a very disciplined person, many of my alternatives are healthier than the norm, more fruit is certainly better than more snickers bars but ultimately your body is forced to process and run on a higher amount of sugar. As my diet was one of the biggest factors in bringing me back from a very unhealthy state compared to a decade ago, I have no doubt that my somewhat relaxed diet of December/January is exactly why the past month has been less than ideal in terms of my health. I happen to be fortunate enough to have a body that lets me know when it is in pain... Swollen joints, irritable digestion, excessive fatigue are three of the signs its time to get back to my usually clean diet.

I’ve listened to a couple good podcasts this week: Joe Rogan Experience #752 with Mark Sisson and The Tim Ferris Show 11/3/15 Dom D’Agostino, that have reinvigorated my practice of examining my diet. While I tend to eat a mostly paleo diet with an inclination toward burning ketones (fat as opposed to glycogen/sugar), most of the time the health benefit comes from looking at what you should eliminate instead of what you can add. Many vegetarians, vegans and paleos alike have the mutual benefit of avoiding factory farmed meats and generally poor sources of nutrition mono crop fruits and veggies.

Lately I’m taking the time to write out some dietary plans for a professional athlete I’m working with as well as students who battle with inflammation (it turns out these seemingly different populations require some similar direction). For my students suffering from a chronic issue similar to my own an elimination diet such as the GAPS is proving to be a good start (www.gapsdiet.com). A modified fast of sorts, showing some success in getting folks back on track. I am intermittently fast for 16 hours most days of the week and am now scheduling in a larger fast quarterly (which my friend and business partner @mysticalphysical is also keen on. Aside from the physical health benefits there has proven to be a psychological and spiritual benefit from fasting. Stoic philosopher Seneca, teaches that one should periodically seek out adversity and discomfort to build a mental armor to possible challenges.

The clearest place to move after an elimination diet (or if one isn’t needed) would be to avoid basic inflammatory foods. Alcohol for certain, and most sugars are to be avoided (if we create a hierarchy less refined are better - ie., fruits are your best option but even these should be in very low quantities (no more than 50 grams of sugar per day, would be good to at least get your body less reliant on glycogen). I would avoid or at least limit gluten and dairy. I avoid corn for the GMO argument alone. Grain, including rice, barley and quinoa work for different people, I have friends and experts that function well on grain, though I don’t seem to be one.

In general it is advantageous to shift the Omega 3 to 6 fatty acid ratio your are consuming and this will help. The easiest start is to eat mostly whole foods (non packaged), meat (grass-fed beef, free range chicken, wild caught fish - aside from ethically the alternatives carry a poor fatty acid profile that tends to result in some inflammation), veggies, fruit (in limited quantities) and lots of healthy fats (organic coconut oil, grass-fed Kerrygold butter (if your body can tolerate, this works well for me, but if you have a problem with milk fat/protien, this may be one you introduce later with grain to see how you respond), and olive oil. Avoid all nut and seed oils they have a very imbalanced fatty acid profile.

With personal success on a more ketogenic diets and reducing inflammation, I find it is good to consume more of your calories from fat (lots of veggies accompanied by healthy fats).

This is a general overview, obviously not individualized as would be more helpful, but I hope it is a start for any of you that suffer with just about any chronic condition (diets very similar to my own, have been shown in the clinical research to kill most pre-cancerous cells and even a large success in cancer patients and assisting traditional chemotherapy).

Some useful resources I frequent and have frequented in the past include:

www.foundmyfitness.com

www.bulletproofexec.com

www.robbwolf.com

www.ketonutrition.org

www.marksdailyapple.com

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Yogas: Schools of Thought. Breaking down a spiritual practice.

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Yogas: Schools of Thought. Breaking down a spiritual practice.

The question I’m most commonly asked is, “how have I developed my personal practice?” and the answer is neither simple, nor has my practice (asana or larger scale) finished unfolding. What is this “Larger” Practice?

Hatha Yoga, largely focused upon the usage of asanas (physical practice) and pranayama (breath practice) to “work the body like we knead dough when making bread, so that it becomes transformed from an amorphous lump of unconscious flesh and bones into something that is vital and full of life” in the brilliant words of Richard Freeman. Hatha Yoga has some similarity to Tantra Yoga as they both see all things as sacred. The ability to hold special attention and focus in any experience, thus making it sacred, seems similar to the practice of “mindfulness” being taught more and more today. Lately I’ve found myself using ritualistic tantra practices to shift consciousness, definitely more to explore here.

Ashtanga Yoga holds an important place in this discussion, since most only think of the primary series of asanas (physical practice), but rather is taught as a science of mental and physical control, which asana (physical) and pranayama (breath) are most certainly large pieces of the whole of the larger practice. This is exactly why when an Ido Portal or a Wim Hof pops up, we need to listen. Also in “8 Limbed practice” of Ashtanga Yoga we have the Dos and Don’ts of living, the namas and niyamas, Yoga’s 10 Commandments basically.  We’ll get more into those another time. We have pratyahara,  dharana and dhyana bassically all stages in the practice of meditation. The final practice of Samadhi/the experience of non-duality/unity/oneness with God is, in my view not unlike the stages of meditation, at first less a practice and more of an experience resulting out of the previous practices. In time even this state of consciousness becomes a practice..

Karma Yoga, is usually taught as living a life of doing good work, though this can easily become a relatively broad idea. Ram Dass teaches Karma as “The Yoga Of Daily Life”. Karma Yoga, at least by the above definition is, ultimately intention, practiced when one makes all actions done in service of something greater than one’s self. “Making it Sacred” as Ram Dass says. Dedicating the fruits of our labor to Creator/Universe.

Generally we are thinking of Bhakti Yoga if the practice is in praise of God. I argue reverence of the Universe, Love of One’s Partner/Spouse, or guide for a Child, are all the practice of Devotion. A student sets aside the building of their own Ego at the moment their practice is done in Devotion. All goals become as equally mundane as all daily routine at that moment. When one embraces a devotional practice/a practice of Love, they accept their own mortality. The beauty in recognizing our mortality, is in recognizing there is something even greater than that which we, and our “unlimited” capacity to imagine, can possibly conceive.

Jnana Yoga, or sometimes Gnana Yoga, is the practice of knowledge, those who gravitate to the teachings of Spiritual texts seem to find a home here. While it is general taught that one only investigate this school more fully after integrating the other Yoga practices, I actually started my own journey here and left it for a long time. Now as a return bit by bit, I understand why it’s probably best to save until one has begun an intensive look into a preliminary practice. One reason being those who don’t experience, can easily become “arm chair yogis”, a term I am reappropriating from author Lon Milo Duquette’s “arm chair magicians”, it all means one who reads and doesn’t practice. Jnana Yoga seems to be a wonderful addition to an existing practice but seems hard to exist as a practice on its own.

I can see elements of my practice in all of them (and others) at times when the intention shifts. The larger practice to me, whatever Yoga we try to define it with, is that of living artfully. Living with intention. The idea of a spiritual practice doesn't necessarily tie it to religion, it can just be a recognition of the existence of something greater than one's self. Be it God or the Universe, a creative impetus. A Divine Consciousness or a Cosmic Coincidence. Mindfulness is a great place to start, I’ve noticed flow states as a musician and a mover that were the beginnings of a larger practice of mindfulness. Really that’s what most Yoga practices also serve as: asanas, mantras, pranayamas, yamas, jnana… Practices that serve as a space to be fully present, to be immersed and united with the experience of presence. 

I hope this breakdown is helpful, especially as we break down “yoga” and “practice” in future posts.

 

 

 

Freeman, Richard. The Mirror of Yoga: Awakening the Intelligence of Body and Mind. Boston: Shambhala, 2010. 1-5. Print.      

Dass, Ram. Remember, Be Here Now. San Cristobal, NM: Foundation, 1975. Print.     

Weiss, Leah, LCSW, Ph.D, and Steve Hickman, Psy.D. "Mindfulness Definition." Greater Good. University of California, Berkley, n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2016.                     

 

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A Brief History of Yoga-asana (...and manifesto of it's evolution)

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A Brief History of Yoga-asana (...and manifesto of it's evolution)

Photo By: Joe Longo

Photo By: Joe Longo

We have all had teachers who recount the long tradition of Yoga. “Yoga has been practiced for 5,000 years.” While this may have truth, this would be like saying: Medicine has been practiced for 5,000 years; In other words, how and what was practiced those many years ago looks quite different from what is practiced, particularly in the west, today.  Among the numerous schools of ancient Yogas we have Raja Yoga (Royal Yoga, the Yoga of Samadhi the balance of mind and soul) which some devotes link to Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras and many reject the practices or Philosophies of Hinduism. Hatha Yoga, which has possibly become completely devoid of its original definition (as most spiritual traditions eventual do), has come to be known as the Physical Practice of Yoga.

Today we think of Hatha Yoga as a collection of “asanas” or physical postures. Whereas “asana” originally meant seat, Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s never mention any asanas by name, later hatha yoga texts in the 11th century allude to 84 classic asanas, though only defining two seated postures (siddhasana/accomplished pose and padmasana/lotus).  The publication of Iyengar’s Light On Yoga in 1966 came as the preeminent yoga asana text of the time, preceded by smaller publications such as Swami Vishnudevananda Saraswati 66 basic postures and 136 variations. To use an analogy from earlier, to say there are only a certain number of postures is like saying we have discovered all the plants that treat disease.

Most modern Hatha Yoga teachers, know their tradition largely stems from the teaching of B.K.S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois (founder of “Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga”). If you took a teacher training, chances are you had to read “The Heart Of Yoga” by Desikachar, son of Krishnamacharya and teacher of the aforementioned Gurus (Teachers), but where did his education come from? Krishnamacharya’s education can largely be traced to his time at The Mysore Palace in the 1930’s when he ran a yoga school. During his time at The Mysore Palace, Krishnamacharya had access to the Sritattvanidhi a largely unknown and seemingly the first definitive text purely dedicated to the physical practice of yoga and the former palace gymnastics hall (including gymnastics ropes and other “props”) and British gymnastics manuals written by the Mysore Palace Gymnasts. Krishnamacharya references the Sritattvanidhi in his first book and the history of the palace and evolution of yoga can be found in:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Yoga-Tradition-Mysore-Palace/dp/8170173892

Modern Hatha Yoga is not Gymnastics, but to discount the influence gymnastics has had is to discount a large portion of Hatha Yoga’s lineage.

Tradition can be important; We need to understand our past to know how best to move forward. This is much of where my own practice has taken me, in an exhaustively enjoyable exploration understanding my physical vehicle. My own Yoga practice is not a performance, as my teacher Nevine says: “If you are performing, you should get paid for it.” Ram Dass defines Karma Yoga as: “The yoga of daily life.” Just as Krishna instructed Arjuna: “We have a right to our labor, but not the fruits of that labor.” The farmer isn’t entitled to the harvest, but is entitled to the discipline of his action. This is the nature of Zen; Oftentime the work we do has profound things to teach us, far beyond what we thought our labor was to provide us.

Unfortunately we continually forget who we really are. We think we are this person and then that person dies. Occasionally throughout an incarnation, we have big events, (a graduation, wedding, death of a loved one, etc.) that seem to change the very personality we defined ourselves by. We are seemingly given the opportunity to answer the call of a new us. The greatest gift you can give someone is a shift of perspective, it is a life altering, world shattering event. Most of these shifts, are just nudges (a small push in a different direction). I heard US President, Barrack Obama talk about the small degree turns a leader can make to change the policy of a Nation. So how can we expect to do any more on a day to day basis? The sun shining through the clouds for only a minute on a Seattle February day is enough to give one the reminder to pause and take a breath. The breeze on a hot Summer day is like the passing brush of your lovers touch. It is a reminder that we are supported, or even when things feel heaviest, lightness, joy and laughter can be found. Even more profound the reminders we create for those around us, and greater still are those we manifest for ourselves. Perhaps our practice, our work,  ur dedication and immersion in it can remind us we are working not for the fruits of that labor, but rather a something far more subtle and yet incomprehensibly complex. This can be the nature of Hatha-Yoga as we continue to evolve it and immerse ourselves in the complexity and richness that exists in knowing our physical vehicle.

 

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"Whiplash" (Film). Dedication, Discipline and Abuse. (Spoiler Alert)

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"Whiplash" (Film). Dedication, Discipline and Abuse. (Spoiler Alert)

If you have not seen the film Whiplash, and prefer to watch with an unbiased view, you may want to stop reading here. Judged as a film alone I believe it is worth your time.

Photo By: Joe Longo

Photo By: Joe Longo

“Great men are almost always bad men...” John Dalberg-Acton

This summer my sister Brittney told me about one of the best film she had seen, quoting lines like poetry. Last week my masseuse/yoga student told me about a “piece of shit” movie that filled him with so much vitriol the words were almost shouted during a massage. Since they were the same movie I figured I needed to watch this film which inspired such intense emotions. For the first half of “Whiplash” I was entirely with Brittney, this was an accurate depiction of old-school music teaching. Greatness must be inspired at any cost mentality, just as the mythical Phoenix arose from its ashes, great artists are born from pain. J.K. Simmons character Fletcher at one point tells the emotional tale of how Charlie “Bird” Parker became one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century after Jo Jones threw a cymbal at him (though the story is heavily embellished in the film), which would turn into his provocation to practice obsessively. This would later be followed by a very important and revealing moment when Fletcher would confidently proclaim: had Jones been supportive, Charlie wouldn’t have been given the impetus to become great and the world would have been deprived of greatness, an “absolute tragedy”.

    Finally, not a hollywood story of a musician’s road to greatness: Start with a child’s interest, throw in some talent, a dash of adversity and vola! If you grew up with any potential in the schools of western classical or jazz, there is a good chance you not only encountered someone a lot like Fletcher’s character, you were also led to believe if you wanted to be great, this was pretty much one of the only people who could get you there. The world has finally been awakened to the abuse that happens in a lot of sports, but most think high-level music as a bunch of whimsical artists, nurturing greatness through undying encouragement.

This is about where I turn more to my masseuse's point of view, a fellow conservatory graduate and like the protagonist of “Whiplash” a percussionist who attended  one of the best conservatories in the country. For those of us that were at least in some part exposed to and damaged by experiences like this, to see the tyrannical instructor proven right at the end of the film when Miles Teller’s character Andrew achieves greatness as Fletcher conducts the band, feels like watching a rapist winking at his smiling victim as she overcomes “adversity” to become a strong person. From my biased point of view, had the movie ended with tragedy we would be left with a profound statement leaving audiences speechless. Of course ethical judgement aside, we need to also look at how a film tells a truth, many great artists have arisen from this environment. It is also far from coincidence many great artists succumb to addiction and depression, there are often unrealistic pressures that are asked of great artists, but abuse and creating a psyche riddled with PTSD is neither a good way to do so nor the best way. It only creates one kind of artist, not necessarily the best kind.

    From Andrew’s point of view as a budding great, the audience is introduced to a common mentality in the arts: Greatness is immortality in the minds of the audience. With many “great” men/women of history we recognize the difference between “greatness” and “goodness” with John Dalberg-Acton’s quote above “Great men are almost always bad men...” we understand the difference. Some of the worst people in history have been burned into our memory with their “greatness” (a measure of size, not of value judgement as in “goodness”). We rarely talk about the lives (often including their own) great artist destroy, “Whiplash” in my opinion fell short in depicting the devastation “greatness” in the arts achieved by this means of abuse, leaves in its wake.

    For the old-school music teacher like Fletcher who still psychotically believes “greatness at any cost”; the greats after all did not arise from passivity. I counter with the argument, does the cost need to be high. As a music teacher and now as a yoga teacher I tend to believe “greatness” is not a talent, yes a natural proclivity exists in some people and paves the way. I’ve had students that can not hear pitch and at a certain point I don’t think this is teachable, “tone deaf” is not an insult it is an actual neurologic disorder. Past the early stages of music, greatness seems to be developed through the “10,000 hours” that Daniel Coyle spoke of in “The Talent Code”. Greatness in the arts is not a talent and as someone who has put a lot of time in (though never the required amount), I personally find the notion offensive. I do believe greatness requires adversity, and there are times where I’ve excused music students from my studio. I would rather a student, who is not putting forth effort and lying to get by, get “fired” from my studio then kicked out of school or fired from a job. Hard lessons are the most difficult to learn, but always important. I do not believe dishonest encouragement is a healthy change to the problems of our past (extremes tend to be the problem). We as teachers have the highest responsibility of any profession, to prepare our students for their lives outside of our classroom, but dedication and discipline can be taught by fostering love rather than fear.

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Starting a Personal Practice

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Starting a Personal Practice

Photo By: Joe Longo

Photo By: Joe Longo

Where do I start!? It is one of the most daunting questions for any new practitioner. The easy answer is to get a private teacher, but this isn’t necessarily the only answer. My own practices were personalized a while back, when I moved back to Philly. My first Yoga teacher Rebecca Pacheco “Om Gal” was in Boston and I didn’t know anyone in the Philly Yoga community. I was a book collector as long as I can remember, buying book after book and never quite finding the time to finish them or implement their practices. What a beautiful opportunity to be teacherless with so many resources. BKS Iyengar’s: Light On Yoga and Erich Schiffmann’s: Yoga were to become my first personal teaching manuals. I would pick a few random asanas and read all about them and practice. Perhaps it wasn’t the most effective methodology but it was better than saying “I don’t know how to start”. Later I would discover the courses in the back on Light On Yoga and follow these more directly.

Improvements came over time, and I would eventually sign up for a teacher training at Dhyana Yoga, to receive some guidance and hope to figure out where the holes had been in my personal practice. It was here I would find my next major teacher: Simon Park. I followed Simon, and learned everything I could from him: Alignment, assisting, feel, flow, teaching dialogue. It was a whirlwind for about two years, until he left for tour and I was again without a teacher. I found lessons from great teachers for a time but it would be a while before my next mentor surfaced. After spending so much time with the creator of Liquid Flow, my personal practice became very improvisatory. I took the many lessons learned, the several books now read and experimented with my practice.

I was lucky to get new perspectives on flow from my new vinyasa teacher Phillip Askew and alignment from my Iyengar teacher Joan White but now the helplessness was gone. I could attend 1-2 classes a week and practice the other 3-5 days sometimes isolating poses like an Iyengar Yogi and sometimes connecting them in creative vinyasa form. My practice had blossomed! The teachers changed along the way, adding more pieces to the puzzle that make up my practice, but the one thing that became more consistent was the increase in my own home practice.

Today, with several great teachers from various movement modalities and a schedule crazier than ever, I’m lucky to get 1-2 lessons or classes a month, but now I practice more than ever and it is only getting more focused and specific to my own goals and needs.

While I was lucky enough to see the benefit of Isolation, Integration and Improvisation from working with diverse teachers, Ido Portal was one of the first to label it for me and make it a specific methodology rather than a random occurrence. Now I spend about five days a week on Isolation and Integration practice, with the other two days embodying more of an improvisatory nature, it gets more scientific by the day but will never be complete or devoid of research or the art of experimentation. We get so caught up in the overwhelming questions of if we have a perfect methodology that we often stop short of starting what was sure to be better than doing nothing.

I’ve evolved my yoga practice largely by use of the internet and there is so much material online from Ido’s challenges to the Gymnastic Bodies Forum. I’m providing a short list of instructors and websites you should visit if you want to take the research route I did. Google any name or visit the suggested place:

  1. Ido Portal (his youtube and old blog: will be most helpful)

  2. Dewey Nielsen (youtube)

  3. www.PoliquinGroup.com (The Poliquin Group has undergone a lot of turmoil with many changes of leadership, but this website has been a goldmine for me)

  4. Charles Poliquin (founder of Poliquin Group, now: www.StrengthSensei.com)

  5. Derek Woodske (www.MG2U.com)

  6. Pavel Tsatsouline (www.strongfirst.com and buy the books)

  7. Jim Bathhurst (www.BeastSkills.com)

  8. Gymnastic Bodies (read the forum it may be the single greatest movement message board ever)

  9. Gold Medal Bodies (I found their youtube to be their most helpful resource)

  10. www.foundmyfitness.com (Dr. Rhonda Patrick: Science Blog, dealing with diet and other health and welness research)

  11. Make Your Own List!!!

This list is endless and starting down own rabbit-hole can present the dedicated researcher with as much information as they can want. Don’t get stuck here! Too much information can end up with an even greater list of questions and stagnation in growth.

For the complete beginner looking to develop a personal movement practice, I am posting this next paragraph as a jumping off point. Choose 3 realistic skills you are looking to learn. By realistic I mean, don’t pick handstand if you can’t do a plank, no double-bodyweight squat if you can’t do a clean bodyweight squat, no muscle-ups if you can’t do a chin-up. Look for movements that are progressions into your chosen three, that you are capable of doing and start accumulating practice. If you don’t feel strong enough to do a push-up, you start working on doing more with the knees down, that first chin-up would probably benefit from your feet on the ground (so perhaps some rows on the rings would come in handy). Figure out what your baseline is, in other words how many times (or how long for holds such as planks or hanging) can you perform the given variation with good form/alignment? Once you have this number for each exercise, commit to three days a week for now: Doing 30% of your max number on each exercise before moving to the next, starting back at the 1st after you finish all 3 for 30 total minutes. Accumulating as many sets as you can in those 30 minutes and record the number at the end of your session, looking to increase by at least one set each new session.

Is the above paragraph a perfect methodology? Far from it! Anything that isn’t individualized will be hard-pressed to be even close to perfect, and it will eventually lose its effectiveness, but it is a start while you continue researching specific practices and looking for your teacher.

 

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Do You Practice Yoga?

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Do You Practice Yoga?

Photo By Joe Longo

Photo By Joe Longo

I have noticed I have a general distaste toward the term Yoga lately, even though I still often use it (with some modicum of confusion to many in the yoga community) to define my own practice. It is after all only a name, and while names give things immense power for a time, they, like everything, will die. If the thing named manages to achieve a particular significance in the world it will outgrow its name; This is the state of Yoga. The word Yoga means so much and so little now. Someone can say they practice yoga and mean anything from power vinyasa, mala beads, mantra, iyengar, bikram, kundalini, reiki, bhakti (devotional practices), vedic astrology, pranayama (breath work), and so much more. It outgrew itself to become a Grandparent Name, a GrandName if I may, but many of us resist against it and use the name expecting others to know what we are talking about while we teachers hardly do!

My other problem with the name Yoga is how people confuse a methodology for an achievement. Aspiring students, confuse a practice with a goal when they say “I canʼt do Yoga, Iʼm not flexible”; Current students sometimes do similar things, comparing their practice to someone elseʼs and saying “I could never” rather than using it as information to guide their own practice. We teachers are guilty too, we see a rock-climber and donʼt recognize their climbing as Yoga-Asana (the postures), we see a runner and donʼt value their running as Dhyana (meditation), we see a fire-fighter and fail to see it all as Bhakti (devotion). Names are amazing things but they pale in comparison to the immensity of what a practice can be.                        

My teacher Nevine Michaan reminds us: “Yogis were fierce! ...They werenʼt go with the flow...peaceful.” The Yogi of old in this context, becomes the martial artist of Hinduism, similarly to what the Samurai were to Zen Buddhism and/or Shinto.  The Samurai, like Myomoto Musashi whose practice of studying martial arts was "to touch upon all the arts" (from The Book Of Five Rings): A Practitioner whoʼs practice is compiling that which best informs and intones them with their body, their intelligence, their creativity, their connection to humanity, life and the universe. A practitioner who aspires to hold the symbol of the sword in one hand to cut through falsehood and holds the other hand out in welcome embrace of truth. This is the archetype of a Yogi I identify with, basically a Samurai without a sword.                    

Yoga doesnʼt need the hierarchy we build into it. Iʼve countless times explained my practice to those aligned with a “more” spiritual practice, only to get a sardonic smile and an answer to a question never asked: “The real yoga starts when you move beyond the physical.” Maybe this is true for them, but, perhaps you can elevate the physical and move beyond. Practice is practice. Iʼve come to realize the practice that takes place on the mat, the gymnastic rings or under the barbell all have very similar information to teach me, and at the crux of their teaching is one familiar theme: The practice that takes place throughout every moment of life shouldnʼt be divorced from the time on a mat. Strength, flexibility, calmness of breath and stillness of mind are all just practices for life, we need not cling to a romantic notion of them but rather embrace any teaching which brings us better understanding of how to navigate this life in harmony.

Yoga very simply means union, and yoga-asana is only the seats/postures or physical practices of that practice of union. As controversial as it may be to say, I am of the belief that how a practice is approached is what makes it yoga-asana, not necessarily the practice itself. It needs to be holistic; As Nevine says “yoga isn’t the gym” and I tend to believe she is right… Espn playing on big screen televisions while standing in front of a wall of mirrors doing bicep curls couldn’t feel further from yoga-asana to me, but I’ve been in environments that were “Yoga Alliance Certified” that feel equally far from union.                 

I had a recent metaphysical experience that showed me how attached I had been to the romantic idea of enlightenment that I had ignored many signs of the efficacy of my practice and the simple result of feeling more joyful. If being more full of joy isn’t a sign on the road to enlightenment, I don’t think I care. My point, and it is suspect as to whether I have one or not, is that Yoga is so many things now a person can not honestly say “yoga” isn’t for them, or easily define if something is yoga or not anymore. One can no longer blindly do a practice with the word “yoga” in it, and claim to be a yogi… The proof only lies in one’s willingness and ability to observe their own experience and results and adjust accordingly. The responsibility then goes to the practitioner, the true seeker of knowledge, because as it is said: the teacher reveals her/himself when the student is ready.

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Correct Meditation Practice: Not A How To Guide

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Correct Meditation Practice: Not A How To Guide

My teacher Nevine Michaan has managed to dispel several of the myths Iʼve held over romantic notions as to what is “correct” yoga practice. For instance, we all know that you roll to the right side after savasana (corpse pose/relaxation), and for that matter we always do the right side first in all yoga-asana. This is for the simple reason that Prana (the energy of the universe) flows from right to left. Iʼve known this so adamantly that I was always reassured that I was more advanced in my knowledge of the “yogic arts” if I saw an advanced practitioner roll onto their left side. This was until Nevine passingly mentioned, maybe the direction of Prana is why, or maybe the right side of your body is the masculine side and in a patriarchal society the man walks first.

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