How has Yoga Improved your Health?

  
Day 6 – No Shave Yoga Event – #yogabeardsunite – How has Yoga Improved your Health?
During this month we are focussing on men’s health. No Shave November is in large part about raising our awareness about health in general with emphasis on early detection of cancer. The money we are raising is with the intention of helping in the research process. In the case of the donations that go to St. Jude Children’s Hospital the support helps children with cancer and to also support the family members taking care of the children. In general the idea is to help those that are in need of it.
Often yoga is perceived as a practice that can help to improve one’s health. The benefits associated with hatha(postural awareness) yoga exercise are numerous. Pranayama(breathing practice) is incredible for strengthening the nervous system and meditation has untold positive effect on our overall health and well being.
How has yoga helped your health? When I reflect on how yoga has helped me I don’t know where to begin. I often feel that the practice of yoga, beyond improving health, has helped my understand of what health is and to see the integration of all the aspects of my being into a unified whole. By opening our perspective to the possibilities of the health we can experience through yoga practice, I feel that practice itself becomes the definition of health. No matter where we are in our state of being, whether we feel healthy or not, yoga can help us to come to terms with reality. Cultivating clear perception can help us make the most of the given situation we find ourselves in. Moment by moment we take steps forward toward peace, health and wellness by cultivating acceptance. 
No Shave Yoga Event is a group of yoga teachers who have banded together to help spread the word, grow hairy, raise money and inspire health through the practice of yoga. Our fundraising team is called Yoga Beards Unite and we aim to raise at least $1500 by the end of November. Please help us achieve our goal by donating to our team page at https://www.no-shave.org/team/yogabeardsunite. When you post on social media please tag us to show your support and share your story to help us in our endeavor. Together we can make a difference! @adampolhemusyoga @brianmilleryoga @davidmiliotis @gregnardi @juankgalan @nativeyoga @willduprey

No Shave Yoga Event – #yogabeardsunite – Where?

Day 4 – No Shave Yoga Event – #yogabeardsunite – Where?  
Today my son, Ethan, jumped in on the challenge. He’s sporting the mustache and busting some Up Dog for the event. Yoga is an excellent way to practice cultivating positive focus and good intentions and can help in the journey of maintaining good health. Sometimes having fun is an essential part of the ride!

  
Where is the No Shave Yoga Event happening? The answer is globally. We are blessed with the fortune of communicating across the globe within a split second. No matter where you are in the world you can take part. Take a pic or share a story and attach the #yogabeardsunite so we can see. Please donate to our team fundraising page at https://www.no-shave.org/team/yogabeardsunite. Every dollar counts!

  
If you live in South Florida there is a No Shave Yoga Event yoga class happening at nativeyogacenter.com on November 22nd at 12:00pm. If you would like to host a donation based yoga class in your area please let us know so we can help share the word. The purpose of this challenge is to raise awareness and get together and have a good time for a good cause.
No Shave Yoga Event is a group of yoga teachers who have banded together to help spread the word, grow hairy, raise money and inspire health through the practice of yoga. Our fundraising team is called Yoga Beards Unite and we aim to raise at least $1500 by the end of November. Please help us achieve our goal by donating to our team page at https://www.no-shave.org/team/yogabeardsunite. When you post on social media please tag us to show your support and share your story to help us in our endeavor. Together we can make a difference! @adampolhemusyoga @brianmilleryoga @davidmiliotis @gregnardi @juankgalan @nativeyoga @willduprey

No Shave Yoga Event – #yogabeardsunite – The Team & You

Day 3 – No Shave Yoga Event – #yogabeardsunite – The Team & You   
The most integral part of the #yogabeardsunite fundraising team is You. 

Here is how you can help:

Please donate to our team fundraising page at https://www.no-shave.org/team/yogabeardsunite. Every dollar counts! Even if you can donate $1 this will help us achieve our goal.

Help spread the word. Use the #yogabeardsunite hashtag when you post photos on IG , share our posts on your Facebook, or favorite us on Twitter.

This event is open to everyone, regardless of sex, and it is no matter if you choose to grow hairy or not. You can also join our team and help create your own posts to facilitate the fundraising potential. Thank you for your support and we greatly appreciate your help.

  
No Shave Yoga Event is a group of yoga teachers who have banded together to help spread the word, grow hairy, raise money and inspire health through the practice of yoga. Our fundraising team is called Yoga Beards Unite and we aim to raise at least $1500 by the end of November. Please help us achieve our goal by donating to our team page at https://www.no-shave.org/team/yogabeardsunite. When you post on social media please tag us to show your support and share your story to help us in our endeavor. Together we can make a difference! @adampolhemusyoga @brianmilleryoga @davidmiliotis @gregnardi @juankgalan @nativeyoga @willduprey

No Shave Yoga Event

rsz_1rsz_nsyeDuring the month of November I am striving to raise awareness about cancer and to help fundraise for the organization www.no-shave.org. I have created two main events to help this process. One is an actual gathering at Native Yoga Center for a donation based yoga class on November 22nd at 12pm. If you live locally in South Florida you can register for the event at the No- Shave Yoga Event registration page. The other event is an online fundraising social media campaign involving male yoga teachers from around the world. We are collectively growing a beard to support the cause and are posting pictures and words of inspiration on our social media channels. Our team is called Yoga Beards Unite and it consists of @adampolhemusyoga @brianmilleryoga @davidmiliotis @gregnardi @juankgalan @nativeyoga @willduprey. Follow us on Instagram and on our favorite social media channels. These events are open for all to participate, male and female. Your support will help those who are working through the challenge of cancer receive financial and moral support. Help show your support by including #yogabeardsunite on your posts as well. Thank you!

Mysore, Kirtan and Friends

Today is one of those days that I can’t help but share my excitement about. I set the alarm for 4am and made my way from home to the shala for an early morning practice. Upon returning to Florida several weeks ago from the 3rd series training with Tim out in Encinitas I have been feeling so inspired. Tim and the attendant trainees infused me with a sense of total of verve that that has motivated me to experiment with parts of 3rd I had not yet before. There is something about the series that is so completely physically challenging and yet altogether invigorating. Also, It is really fun to experiment when I am on my own or just a few friends practicing nearby knowing that there is no judgement based on performance capabilities.   
I was winding things down with the shoulder stand sequence and while balled up in Pindasana (a shoulder stand with the legs in lotus folded down against the chest and the arms wrapped around so that we mimic the fetus in the head down position) our good friend and student Carole came in for a surprise visit. She hit a couple of the wrong switches and the whole room lit up with fluorescent lighting and we had a good laugh at the grand entry. Carole started practicing with us 9 years ago here and we would both get to the shala very early in the morning and practice together regularly since then. She has moved up the D.C. area and I have missed her energy so much. It is really great to develop a friendship through repeated years of practicing silently next to someone. You really get to know the person and you develop a bond that goes beyond words. It felt like my morning started off with the right combination of positive vibes to help me find that zest that comes with stoked practice.

I suppose some momentum was created and to top it off Greg Nardi came to practice Mysore this morning with us which was just such a nice treat. Greg is getting ready to offer some workshops this Friday and Saturday here at Native Yoga Center. When we scheduled this event Greg had the idea of combining forces and offering a Kirtan. We both agreed and then realized that some practice would be a good idea before hand. 🙂 One thing that really inspires the Mysore room is the combined enthusiasm of the practitioners that show up. The teacher just gives a little assistance but really the practice and the sweat that comes from the practice is the real “bread and butter” so to speak. I thoroughly love the Ashtanga routines and all the elements of the “limbs” that make it up.
  
Greg and I had a chance to iron out which songs to sing and and get some practice in before this weekend. Enclosed is a short video from our practice session today. If you are in the South Florida area we hope you can make it. Greg enjoys teaching a well rounded approach to Ashtanga Yoga and his insights will encourage you.

Friday, September 25th he is offering a workshops titled:
Forward bends, Hips, and Knees 5:30pm – 7:30pm Paschimattanasana, or west stretching pose, describes forward bending as a means of opening the subtle channels on the posterior surface of the body.  In this workshop, we will look at the three symmetrical forward bends, or paschimattanasana poses in the beginning of primary series to help us understand the fundamentals of hip and spinal flexion.  We will then build on this foundation to look at asymmetrical forward bends and what they teach us about proper use of the hips and knees so that we can safely move towards advanced forward bending asanas.

Kirtan and Mantra with Greg Nardi and Todd McLaughlin 7:30pm – 8:30pm

On Saturday, September 26th he will offer two workshops:

Backbends 12:00pm – 2:30pm Explore the fine art of backbending.  We will work through a progressively challenging series of backbends that will educate you about the finer points of spinal extension.  Learn how to distribute energy through the entire body during your backbends to avoid overloading the lower back. If you are challenged by the process of deepening your backbends, or are just beginning to explore advanced backbending, this workshop is not to be missed.

Yoga Beyond Asana 4:00pm – 6:30pm This workshop will explore concepts from the Upanishads that shape the eastern worldview.  This paradigm is the contextual framework out of which yoga is born.  As a modern yoga practitioner, you will be able to fit contemporary yoga practice into an ancient wisdom tradition.  We will explore yogic theories and concepts such as conditioned living, the causes of suffering, the means of liberation, and the purpose of life.  Come with an open mind, and you will leave inspired.

All details and registration are available at www.nativeyogacenter.com

Greg Nardi returns to Native Yoga Center

  
Everyone at Native Yoga Center is excited for the return of Greg Nardi this Friday and Saturday, September 25th and 26th, 2015. 

Here is Greg’s bio from his website http://www.ashtangayogaworldwide.com 

Greg Nardi, founder of Ashtanga Yoga Worldwide, has spent years of dedicated practice under the guidance of Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. In 2003, he was given authorization to teach from Pattabhi Jois, and in 2009, he completed a level 2 authorization course from Sharath Jois. He is currently learning the advanced series under Sharath’s guidance at the KPJAYI.

Greg perpetually studies and practices Yoga, Eastern Philosophy and Sanskrit mantra chanting. He participates in Georg Feuerstein’s Traditional Yoga Studies course and has studied with Vyaas Houston of the American Sanskrit Institute.

Greg founded Ashtanga Yoga Worldwide, a resource which strives to explore the traditions that give rise to modern Yoga methods, to maintiain the Ashtanga Yoga system as taught by Pattabhi Jois and Sharath Jois, and to make these traditions and methods intelligible to the Western practitioner.

We have been lucky enough to have Greg teach here at Native several times over the years. Included is a link to the workshop schedule that he is offering this weekend.

http://www.nativeyogacenter.com/ap-greg-nardi–save-date-september-25th-26th-2015-1430421410.php 

One Door Closes and Another One Opens

One Door Closes and Another One Opens  
Today, Saturday, August 29th, 2015 marks the end of the first Third Series Teacher Training with Tim Miller. As the session came to a close there was a feeling of complete excitement and appreciation for the opportunity to be a part of this community. We had our closing celebration last night at a beautiful home in Solana Beach and found ourselves having so much fun that when asked why didn’t we do this sooner we found ourselves wishing we had. When we arrived today at TT session for Yoga Sutra studies it was a bittersweet moment. The closer we came toward the end the deeper we connected together as a group. We spent the first part of the afternoon studying the fourth chapter of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The chapter is called Samadhi Pada and it seemed a very befitting topic of discussion for the last session. The fourth chapter has some very beautiful sutras that, in my opinion, inspire us to enjoy this opportunity we have to make the most of our lives.

   
 Tim then read to us the portion of the Ramayana when Hanuman realizes that he is going to take the leap of faith and jump for Sita in Lanka. As the story was being read I couldn’t help but feel that this was a perfect metaphor for where we are at this transition today. Anytime we encounter new and exciting information there is a zeal that is ignited and serves as a catalyst for change. There is also often a sense of foreboding though when realizing that we will be on our own again and trying to implement the techniques that were introduced. Hence, it is up to us to make up our minds to know that we can achieve our dreams and aspirations. We can utilize our minds to recall the acquired inspiration and use that as fuel to maintain our motivation along the road ahead. In the story Hanuman remembers he has the ability to rescue his teacher’s beloved and sets in his mind that he has already succeeded before he even makes the infamous leap across the great ocean. This story is so wonderful and poignant.  
After having a heartfelt graduation ceremony we dried our eyes and relaxed our jaws from smiling so much as we listed to each student share their thoughts and feelings upon completion. It seemed now the only thing left to close the training was sing the Hanuman Chalisa, and that we did! We put out hearts and souls into it and and there was such an amazing feeling of harmony and connectedness that we were left feeling totally charged up. All I can say is that it blew the doors off of any kirtan experience I have encountered thus far. It was like I could feel the zing in everyone’s voices.

  
We then tied all of the loose ends with a group photo and a chance to give everyone hugs and farewell wishes goodbye. In the past during these type of group events I have felt bummed to say goodbye and like I didn’t want to leave. What was different about today was that I genuinely feel thankful for the time we had and know we are all going to see each other again. Generally there can be sadness when saying goodbye to friends and relatives because we will miss them, and we want to continue to be beside them. I feel though there is a link that binds all of us together and even though we are apart we are connected through love and devotion. I can hardly wait to see my wife and children and feel like they are the most important thing to me. As I was walking to my car I saw a man changing the diaper for his baby in the back of his car with the hatch up. I couldn’t help but stop and contemplate because in that moment I felt that the time we have in each stage of life with our loved ones is so precious. I can actually say that I can’t wait to get home and change some diapers!

Full Moon on the Rise

Full Moon on the Rise  
Today is Friday and our second to last day here at the Third Series Teacher Training with Tim Miller. I arrived at the studio for the 6:00am Pranayama routine. I didn’t miss a session in the entire two weeks. This has been one of my favorite parts of this two week immersion with Timji. Yesterday Tim asked if it was getting any easier for us? I did feel a slight bit of lightness in today’s practice. Like anything, you just have to do this everyday to feel comfortable with it. I am really looking forward to practicing more at my own pace to be able to develop my relationship with it. The pranayama is truly an incredible form of concentration and meditation. The intricacy of the coordination required combined with the delicacy of relaxing the mental and physical agitation that arises is priceless. What a gem of an experience.

  
I stored up my Primary series practice for today and I am so glad that I did. I remember a good friend of mine, Tim Feldmann (“Little Tim”), telling me how challenging working all the way through Intermediate and adding a portion of Advanced into the morning routine can be to maintain on a daily basis. You know how someone can give you clue that you know one day you will probably know what they mean but you can’t quite fathom yet? I think I now understand what he was saying. This is some intense work. You wake up feeling every single fiber of your being and then have to find the courage to repeat it all over again. Yet what an inspirational process. So when Friday came around today, and it was time to do Primary, I felt like I had been the greatest gift. When you feel all “beat up” the Primary series is like a soothing bath or a nice gentle walk through the park. Well, I still sweat like there was no tomorrow and speaking of which tomorrow is a full moon. I think Tim might have planned this perfectly to coordinate with the full moon rising just as we are closing this session. It couldn’t be a better conjunction of planets and stars and…some rest.

  
After class I snuck down to the beach for a surf. The water was so glassy and there were about a million people in the water. The sets were coming through about once every 20 minutes with about 2 waves per set. So if you do the math that gives you about a one and one thousandth chance of catching a wave. Non the less the weather was so beautiful and the water felt like a recharging salt bath set to the best temperature. I also had the chance to have breakfast at Swami’s cafe right across from Swami’s beach and Paramahansa Yogananda’s Hermitage. I LOVE Encinitas! Outside of Juno there is no other place I would like to live. Clearly everyone else feels the same way which makes for some crowded conditions.

  
This afternoon’s Teacher Training session was so great. We finished our investigation of the poses of the finishing series and concluded with Uthplitihi right at exactly 5pm. Tim orchestrated this masterfully. It was timed so perfectly. He also read from the Srimad Bhagavatam which is a hefty text from the genre of Indian literature called the Puranas. It is an ancient scripture that espouses the path of Bhakti Yoga which is the path of devotion. I took notes while he spoke to keep myself alert and I enjoyed the stories that he shared from it. We sang a Hanuman Chalisa to put the the theory to practice and Tim made joke that we were going to have to sing a Chalisa tomorrow without looking at the words as a test. I have a feeling we are going to pass with flying colors.

The Evolution of Our Practice

The Evolution of Our Practice
Anytime we examine the process of evolution it is important to have a clear memory of the past. If we can distinctly recall our history and also take an assessment of where we are now, then it is possible to examine what has occurred and notice if and how we have progressed.

  
At some point, in the realm of yoga practice, we have the opportunity to reflect on how our practice has evolved. Regardless of how long we have been practicing this theory can hold true. The reality is that one would need to have at least two practice sessions complete to be able to observe the progression of the practice. We can notice how our perception has shifted from one repetition to the next. This ability seems to become enhanced the longer we are involved in and with a practice.
Do you remember the first time you encountered yoga? It is important to try to recall the feelings we had regarding our first experience. It is really interesting to try to recollect the reason why we decided to try practicing yoga in the first place. There are multiple reasons why we might find interest in trying yoga. Perhaps it is to try a new form of exercise, lose some weight, increase our flexibility and strength, or even to delve deeper into our understanding of spirituality and self inquiry. Regardless of the reason, if we can first become clear about the “why”, we can begin to see how we have grown since that time.

  
Do you feel like you have progressed since your first encounter with yoga? I feel progression is a lot easier to measure once you establish your self in a practice for a long duration. Exactly how long? That will depend on each person. I remember the first time I tried yoga it was in the form of Mantra yoga and it required chanting words using japan mala(108 beads strung together to serve as a tool to keep focussed on the mantra recitation). I quickly found that it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be but I did notice some positive effects very soon thereafter. I did not stick with it though for any continuation so it is challenging to say how effective it could of been had I made a daily ritual of it. I mention this because progression seems to rely heavily on endurance with dedication to one form of yoga for an extended span of time.
If we were to come to the realization that we do not feel like we have progressed this would probably be due to two factors. One, are we still practicing? The second being, do we have faith the practice will take us to our goal? If the answer to the first question is no, then I think it is probably obvious as to why we don’t see any transformation. If the answer is yes and we still do not feel like there is an unfolding of development then the big question becomes, do we believe in the method of practice to begin with? I say this is the “big question” because believing in what you are doing is one of the golden keys to success. If from the core of your being you feel that your method of practice is sound and true, then a favorable outcome is bound to occur. Faith constitutes a cornerstone in the path to progress.

  
I found myself reflecting on these questions today as we are coming to the close of our Third Series Teacher Training with Tim Miller. I feel like these two weeks have been an incredible opportunity for growth and development. When I first started practicing asana yoga I undoubtedly was attracted to the challenge of the posture practice. I was enthralled with trying to deepen my poses purely in the realm of the physical. To be very honest I am excited about this aspect of the practice more than ever before. Exposing myself to this group of practitioners has inspired me beyond measure. As I probe the question a bit more deeply though I can’t help but feel that my understanding of yoga and its purpose is what is truly evolving. Is it because of the asana I am feeling so much indebtedness? Perhaps it is because Tim has opened me up to a multitude of complimentary practices (asana, pranayama, bhakti, kirtan and mantra) that I am feeling such a deep sense of gratitude? Regardless, I feel that my whole focus has radically shifted from a place of desiring progress through the physical to a place of thankfulness for the transpersonal. That is an appreciation with states or areas of consciousness beyond the limits of personal identity. In some miraculous way I feel that I have been able to shed a few of my inhibitions and the moral support of the gathering of these folks has given me a renewed sense of accomplishment. Thank you for this as I am deeply beholden.

Yoga from the Heart

Today there was a grand sense of accomplishment in the shala amongst the participants. We completed our investigation of the Third Series poses.
Today we examined:
Dikasana A&B (some books call it Dighasana but Tim mentioned Guruji always said Dikasanana. Plus a dika is a bird which seems befitting of this pose.)


Trivikramasana (3 Steps Pose which is a reference to the god Trivikrama which is an incarnation of Vishnu)


In 1982 Tim did his first yoga demonstration in India in front of 300 Indians. There were several demonstrations from the men, and then the women. A husband and wife couple practiced the whole Second Series in front of them. Tim was chosen to demonstrate the entire Third Series alone with Guruji counting it in Sanskrit at breakneck speed. Tim said he was in his prime at this time. Guruji claimed that when Tim demonstrated Trivikramasana that the crowd gasped. Guruji said that he had done it so well that the crowd thought the god Trivikrama had embodied him in that moment to enable him to perform it so flawlessly. Tim said that was a long time ago so he hopes that now Trivikrama will come through for us when we practice it. I thought that was really cool.
Natarajasana (King of the Dance Pose)


The picture of this Nataraja(Dancing Shiva) is of a murti, or representation of the divine, that Tim got on a trip to Mysore.


He told us this story about how when in Mysore you practice and the remaining time you have free to yourself. Tim enjoyed shopping and would look for interesting murtis to buy. He had established relationships with some of the local art dealers so that when he would return to India they would come to his door to show him their wares. They would always say, “This one is very special price, very good price for you.” This particular one he found at Lalita Hall which was the old Maharaja’s summer palace. There was a store called Saraswati’s Handicrafts and he went in to visit and see what Saraswati had available. When he saw this Nataraj he said he was interested in buying it. Saraswati replied, “That piece is very rare, not for sale. Not for sale.” Tim continued to persist. Again she said, “This piece is to rare, I am sorry not for sale” in her sweet Indian accent. She then called the boss man and it turns out, “It is for sale, but this one very expensive.” So after bargaining with her he was able to acquire it and he took it to Guruji to see what he thought. He showed Guruji and he asked, “how much you pay?” He told him and Guruji just shook his head as if to say, “you sucker.” Big laughs around the room after this story. A student then chimed in that the last time he was in Mysore some of the vendors will say to the yoga students, “Tim Miller buys his murti’s here.” I thought this was so classic.
Raja Kapotasana (King Pigeon Pose)


  

Eka Pad Raja Kapotasana (One Legged King Pigeon Pose)


Tim writes a blog called Tuesday’s with Timji. You can check it out and follow him by clicking the link: http://timmiller.typepad.com

This Tuesday he wrote,

“The full moon on Saturday August 29th at 11:35am PDT will be at 12 degrees Aquarius in the nakshatra known as Shatabhisha—“the Hundred Physicians”.  On the same day, the first ever Third Series Training will come to a conclusion at the Ashtanga Yoga Center.  Since August 17th I’ve had the pleasure of hosting 40 advanced students of Ashtanga Yoga from all over the world.  It’s quite a dedicated group of practitioners—highly motivated and very hard working—an ashtanga teacher’s dream, really.  The Mysore classes have been huge and very sweaty.  With so many people practicing third and fourth series, the studio almost has a circus like atmosphere—sometimes I catch the local students gawking at some visiting phenom displaying a combination of strength, flexibility, and agility.  It’s certainly the most advanced group of students I’ve ever had gathered together at one time.  Best of all, these people all seem to have some real depth and appreciation of what yoga is really all about.  It seems fitting that the course will end on the full moon in Shatabhisha, a sign associated with healing and expansion of consciousness.  I was born with my Sun in Shatabhisha so I have some familiarity with these themes and have been exploring them through yoga for nearly 40 years.  My sincere hope is that something of real value is being transmitted during this course.  The enthusiasm of the students is contagious—it almost makes me feel like starting to practice the third series again.”
I include this to help explain the general vibe in the space. It is so incredible in there. As we approach our last 3 days here with Tim I think we are all wishing that it wouldn’t come to an end.
Here are some pics from the end of the day surf session. The water was so warm and inviting which is very rare in my opinion in Southern California. There were some fun small waves and I was able to grab a few pics to help convey the stoke.