Dr. Michael Shea – Embodiment of the Senses Through Yoga & Meditation

Join my special guest, Michael Shea PhD, for a discussion titled Embodiment of the Senses Through Yoga & Meditation. During this conversation we discussed Michael’s new book titled, The Biodynamics of the Immune System: Balancing the Energies the of the Body with the Cosmos. You can preorder his new book on Amazon by clicking here.

Michael and I are pleased to announce the launch of our new course called All Levels Meditation & Yoga Course.Check out this new course by clicking here.

Visit Michael on his website here sheaheart.com

You can listen to the full podcast here for free.

Todd McLaughlin

Wow! I’m really excited to have Dr. Michael Shea again here in person at Native Yoga Center for today’s episode of Native Yoga Toddcast, which is titled Embodiment of the Senses Through Yoga and Meditation. Michael, how are you doing today?

Dr. Michael Shea

Well, it’s been a busy day because I spent the morning at the car dealership and looking at their giant aquarium waiting for the tires to be rotated and for an oil change to happen. So an entire morning at a car dealership gave me a really good opportunity to meditate on an aquarium.

Todd McLaughlin

Nice. Do you have any profound realizations in the process of staring at the fish?

Dr. Michael Shea

Always the profound realization is how wonderful space is, you know, when I get caught up and you know, not wanting to be where I’m at, at a car dealership, because I got better things to do, of just releasing my attention out into space. But in this case, it was the biggest aquarium I’ve ever seen. And just releasing my attention to the aquarium and then looking out into space as well. 

Todd McLaughlin

That’s cool. You know, we have two really big announcements to share today. Number one, I’m so excited to have a copy of your brand new book called the Biodynamics of the Immune System: Balancing the Energies of the Body with the Cosmos. Whoa, that’s a lot. 

Dr. Michael Shea

Yeah, he’s a big, thick steak if you’re a meat eater, but it’s also a big soy burger if you’re a vegetarian.

Todd McLaughlin

And so I’m really excited to have the chance to ask you some questions about your most recent publication. Also, you and I have created a course and today on the launch of this podcast are launching our course together called All Levels Yoga & Meditation Course. And so you know, I had a lot of fun filming this with you. And I’m excited to release it today. And it’s available on our platform nativeyogaonline.com. The link for that is in the description below for anyone listening would like to check it out. Michael, from us filming that course do you have any takeaways from the experience? What are you excited to share with people that are interested in taking that course.

Dr. Michael Shea

I think meditation in general, and yoga, is constantly evolving in our culture. And when you study yoga and meditation, because I’ve been studying it now for 45 years, something like that, is just realizing like it’s so highly nuanced. And the next teacher says, Well, have you tried this? And the next teacher well why don’t you try this to refine your practice? So there’s never really an end game. That’s the one thing I learned. But there’s a continual opening, you know, as long as you have that willingness to be open to a teacher and to a new class. And as I said, you know, earlier when we were just talking, before we started, I just like to stay with what I know versus what is trending and what’s current. I have to tell you just a short story. I’ve been studying all year with with a Lama from Tibetan medical background. But he was in Sikkim, and then in Bhutan in the summer, and he was broadcasting from there. And he was at a very high level. It’s called advisory on a tantric Buddhist conference in the capital city of Bhutan, in which all the heavy hitter Lamas from Tibet and that area of the world you know, we’re coming together for this conference, and the one thing he said is that because it was going on our planet these days, the veil of secrecy of all of these different meditation practices need to be lifted, and the secrecy needs to be taken away because we are in such an important time on this planet right now with the intensity of the polarization and duality. So, you know, one of the things I share in my book is, not necessarily sharing secrets, but sharing the techniques that can help. But I understand why some of that knowledge, some of the mystical knowledge, or the meditation knowledge, or yogic knowledge, in general, is secret. It’s just because teachers want to have you go through a progression. Because of your aptitude. Some students can’t go to the end game right away. They can’t, you know, go right out into space, you know, and stay grounded at the same time. So, at any rate, it’s exciting because I feel liberated in wanting to share more and more and that book is one vehicle of sharing more, in terms of what was formerly considered to be secret knowledge. And again, that veil has been lifted. I’ve never been good at holding secrets anyway, even my mother knew that. 

Todd McLaughlin

There is a term in a book that you had given me a while back ago called the phenomenon of basic space. Can you explain that?

Dr. Michael Shea

Well, my teacher who was originally the Dalai Lama wanted all of his students to do Buddha scholarships. So I spent 10 years doing very intense Buddhist scholarship. And now I’ve even lost track of the question, explaining basic space and phenomenon. Yeah, see, I went into basic space just now.

Todd McLaughlin

I’ll pull you back in if you drift too far over there. 

Dr. Michael Shea

I’ll thank you. 

Todd McLaughlin

I’ll reel you in.

Dr. Michael Shea

Right, right. So it was because I want my answer to link to, you know, this discussion of, of yoga and meditation. And so as a scholar of Tibetan Buddhist literature, there’s really the two highest level people that you know, those are the writers you go for, in the Kyagu and the Nyingma, tradition, or sometimes it’s known as the Xhosa tradition. It is from the book The Precious Treasury of The Basic Space of Phenomena by Longchenpa. It’s also called Yoga. But he’s considered to be like the most incredible Lama that could give words to the ineffability of the infinite nature of our mind, and so forth, and all those things that we hear about and that we’re trying to achieve. And that’s one of his books. So that was recommended to me and I gave you a copy. And it basically explains the view of Tibetan Buddhism, before you get to meditation, it’s helpful to understand the view. And I think that’s also an important thing to understand about Buddhist meditation, you don’t just jump on a cushion and sit in cross legged position, and so forth. But it’s an understanding that there’s a view here, and the view is basically that all phenomena is infinitely equal. And we hear that as no self, you know, that we don’t have a solid self, and so forth, and that we’re all interconnected. And it’s described as being empty and other metaphors, you know, that are used, but he explains it the best. He explains it the best of how you rest into the element of space. And I’m talking about the element of space from Indo Tibetan point of view, you know, space, wind, fire, water, earth, and so forth. So how you rest your mind. That’s the sea, this is yoga and meditation, how do you rest your mind and body into the element of space where it all began?

Todd McLaughlin

So when you were talking about being at the Toyota dealership today, and staring at the fish tank, and being able to let your mind go into space, is there a way to explain a technique that allows one to achieve that release into space?

Dr. Michael Shea

Yeah, the basic technique is, well, again, you know, it’s relatively simple. And it’s one of these things it’s been secret for a while. It’s called looking into the wisdom of the universe, or looking into the center of the universe or looking into the center of space. All these are metaphors for the same thing, the infinite nature of the totality of life, and the universe. In general, so, but the technique is actually quite simple. And you know, you’re a yogi. And as a practicing yogi, I’m kind of a want to be yogi. I call myself a bogey, you know, kind of indulgent yogi. But the posture is always the first thing, you know, you said, You’ve got to embody your senses. And that means not labeling what you’re seeing, not labeling what you’re hearing, not labeling what you’re feeling, you come into a posture that allows you to sit still, and just be with your senses. Because you have to notice if you’re labeling a lot, oh, this is that, that is that, this is that. Labeling takes us into the head and out of our body and out of the experience of meditation and yoga.

You can listen to the full episode for free here: https://nativeyogacenter.buzzsprout.com

Thanks for reading this blog post from this YouTube video. Check out: 
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Dr. Rose Erin Vaughn – Connecting the Dots – Yoga, Acupuncture and the Meridian Pathways

You can listen to the full episode for free here.

Todd McLaughlin

I’m really delighted to bring to the podcast today, Dr. Rose Erin Vaughn. She is an experienced acupuncturist. She’s a yoga teacher, she specializes in myofascial trigger point therapy and the practice of science of meridians. She has over 20 years of practice in the field. And she’s got an incredible Instagram page, I really highly recommend you go check it out. It’s at @erin_bodyaware. And then please go look her up on her website, which is scienceofself.com

I recently bought her book The Science of Self, Yoga, Pathways, Organs and Emotions off of Amazon. I’ll put a link in the description below for all these different sites. It’s really interesting. I have to admit, I’ve been reading it and applying some of the ideas during my own yoga practice. I love the way that she’s been able to bring attention to the use of visualization of the meridians while practicing the yoga poses. I really appreciate how she encourages feeling the energy pathways in the body based on our experience. Then having a little bit of guidance from her to know what the tradition of it all is, has been really fascinating. So for me, this is a huge honor to bring Dr. Rose Erin Vaughn on. Let’s go ahead and start. 

I’m so excited to have Dr. Rose Erin Vaughn here today. Dr. Rose Erin, how are you doing today?

Dr. Rose Erin Vaughn

I’m doing great. I’m sitting by my wood stove up in upstate New York.

Todd McLaughlin

Oh wow. It’s obviously a little bit colder up there than here in Florida. I am in my flip flops and in the air conditioning. 

Dr. Rose Erin Vaughn

Oh, wow. Right?

No, it’s very cold here. Yeah.

Todd McLaughlin

Oh, man. I’m really excited to have this chance to speak with you because I have your book, The Science of Self – Yoga Pathways, Organs and Emotions, and I’m enamored with it. I think what you’ve done with blending your acupuncture career with the yoga together and the visuals of the way that you use the meridian lines from the acupuncture and Chinese medicine system in relation to the yoga poses has been so interesting. I really love your book. I think it’s incredible.

Dr. Rose Erin Vaughn

Well, thank you. 

Todd McLaughlin

You’re welcome. And so so that all of our listeners are aware, you’re an experienced acupuncturist, you’re a yoga teacher, you specialize in myofascial trigger point therapy, and practice science of meridians. And you’ve had an opportunity to learn from your 20 years of practice in the field. And I’m curious, was there a lightbulb moment for you that your study and career path would unfold to where you are now?

Dr. Rose Erin Vaughn

There was a few but I think as far as combining the energy pathways, which we call meridians, in Chinese medicine, with yoga, those are two different systems. That happened for me, I think that was something that was sort of a seed for a long time, you know, seed and sprout. Where roads and I think when I was studying originally just trigger point manual therapy and yoga before I went to acupuncture school and learned the meridian system. I sensed there is some deeper connection that I needed to find with combining the myofascial pathways that I was learning with the asana. With yoga asana, with an understanding, sort of the emotional connection to it. Like why are these patterns in the body? And why does yoga asana work, to not only heal the body, but to release emotions? Anyone that practices yoga knows that it there is this relationship? Yes. Because you start crying in class sometimes, and then you feel better. Yeah. So I really just had asked my teacher who is Dharma Mitra, my yoga teacher. He’s a master. I mean he’s 83 years old now, and I was pretty close to him. I said I want to learn the energy pathways. And he’s a funny guy. I mean, he will say things like, really short, you know, and then later, you’ll figure out what it meant. But he just said, what you need to do, you need to get a book. He was like, I don’t know that stuff. But you should get a book. He told me to get the Sivananda book that has description of the nadis. And I was like, Oh well, I guess that was a stupid question. But I think he mysteriously put me on the path to go to acupuncture school and learn those pathways. Now every time I see him, he’s always like, are you still doing the needles? You know, acupuncture. And he asked me while I was in school, and yeah, he asked me just last week, are you still doing? And anyway, I think, as I studied the meridian system, which is really overwhelming, in the beginning, yes, it’s a massive amount of very detailed information about the energy pathways in the body. And so it was overwhelming. So I made up these meditations, which I could do during yoga and afterward that worked like body scans. Where you just follow them around the body.

Todd McLaughlin

I don’t want to say it. I guess I was gonna say the word imagination, but you use your power of visualization to body scan and follow the meridian around while you’re in the yoga pose?

Dr. Rose Erin Vaughn 

Exactly. That’s crazy imagination. Yeah. Because whether, I mean, my acupuncture teacher is also a master. And he’s like, it doesn’t matter if these pathways are real or not. You know what I mean? Like, people argue over these things. Like, are they useful? And so they are useful. And anyway, yes, it’s totally imagination, visualization. And as I was doing the asana that I’d been doing for years anyway, I was like, wow, I can feel these pathways. Wow. They’re on some level. They’re really real. Doorways unfolded and it opened a whole new world when I did that. 

Todd McLaughlin

Did that light bulb go off more when you started to apply what you’re learning from the Chinese meridian system more so than what you had learned and applied from the myofascial release pressure point work?

Dr. Rose Erin Vaughn

Well, the thing about the myofascial release, which is brilliant, and that’s what I had studied, the Travell and Simons’ text. That is what I studied when I went to massage school first.

Todd McLaughlin

Yeah, that’s a very dense text isn’t it? I have those books and they are amazing. For those listening that are unfamiliar with those texts I would like to mention that it is a big undertaking to study these. So that’s pretty amazing that you combed through those volumes and went deep into study of them.

Dr. Rose Erin Vaughn

You really do have to comb through them and I still have the original books that I had bought and they’re you know, heavily underlined. I was just like, wow, what is this? Crazy like that? Any I tell everyone to buy those and just spend the rest of their life reading them. 

Todd McLaughlin

They’re absolutely incredible in relation to trigger point and referral points, don’t you think?

Dr. Rose Erin Vaughn

Yes. Learning about things that it could do to mimic, or that could mimic those pain patterns. Like, you know, you may think you’re having a heart attack, but you actually have a trigger point in your rhomboids or something like that, or your pec major. Yes. And so that was just fascinating to me, but it has left out one component, mostly which, which was emotions. Like stress and anxiety or anger. Like, how did those things relate and what patterns do they specifically create? And that is what the Chinese system is masterful for. Because they understand the connection of those myofascial pathways to the specific internal organs. When you first hear that the liver is has anger, you know, or is associated with anger, people don’t buy it right away. But I explain it to people like, you know, the heart is related to love. Right? 

Todd McLaughlin 

Yeah. Everyone just sort of intuitively knows that. Because they feel it. Yeah. And that’s one that we accept that. Yet the thought of the connection between anger and my liver, that’s a tough one at first.

Dr. Rose Erin Vaughn

It is, you know, but then if you start to study it and think about it. Then you notice, like, when you get really angry, or there’s something that’s really irritating you that’s not usually there, you notice certain patterns in your body. Like tension around the right side of the ribcage radiating down the right side, or down the IT band or something or up into your jaw. And that’s the liver and gallbladder. The gallbladder pathway, but it’s related to the liver. And then it changes your life, you can’t go back once you see the connection.

Todd McLaughlin

Good point.

You can listen to the full episode for free here: https://nativeyogacenter.buzzsprout.com

Thanks for reading this blog post from this YouTube video. Check out: 👇
Native Yoga Teacher Training – In Studio and Livestream – for info delivered to your email click this link here: https://info.nativeyogacenter.com/native-yoga-teacher-training-2023/

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New Student Livestream Special ~ Try 2 Weeks of Free Unlimited Livestream Yoga Classes  at Native Yoga Center. Sign into the classes you would like to take and you will receive an email 30 minutes prior to join on Zoom. The class is recorded and uploaded to nativeyogaonline.com ~ Click Here to join.

New Student FREE 30 Minute Yoga Meet & Greet ~ Are you new to Native Yoga Center and have questions that you would like us to address? Whether you are coming to In Studio, Livestream or Online Recorded Classes we offer a one time complimentary 30 minute zoom meeting to answer any questions you may have. Schedule a time that is convenient for you. Click Here

Native Yoga website: nativeyogacenter.com
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Native Yoga Blog: toddasanayoga.com
Instagram: @nativeyoga
YouTube channel: Native Yoga Center

Listen to the podcast here on our Podcast website: Native Yoga Toddcast

Please email special requests and feedback to info@nativeyogacenter.com

Michael Harris – Falling Down Getting UP – Overcoming Your Obstacles

Join in listening to this wonderful conversation I had with Michael Harris.

Michael has been telling “sit on the edge of your seat stories” ever since his first show and tell in grade school – some stories will make you laugh – others are quite tragic that could bring any listener to tears. He shares in his #1 book, Falling Down Getting UP,  how starting in 1987, yoga helped heal him from several near fatal predicaments. 

Today, Michael is a popular yoga teacher with three certifications from Erich Schiffman, Integral Yoga and Bikram Yoga. In addition, he is an author, lifelong entrepreneur and co-founder of Endless Stages – a company dedicated to help motivated yogis, healers and entrepreneurs get their personal voice, message and story out to the world.

You can download a free copy of his powerful book at www.michaelbharris.com/book or purchase at https://bookshop.org/shop/michaelharris.com

You can listen to the full episode for free here.

Todd McLaughlin

We’ll just so the listeners are aware you you gave me the best surprise ever because we had scheduled to do this podcast quite a while ago. I know we worked really hard at finding a date that we could both organize to make this work. Just prior to me hitting the record button, Michael, you reminded me that you and I had met in California, at Bikram Yoga Teacher Training. You were one of the teachers that were helping teach some of the classes at the training. I didn’t even know that was you when we were scheduling this appointment. So now the fact that I’m getting a chance to speak with you I am so exited. I remember you very clearly. I loved your classes! I felt like you were a grounding force in a really wild world. You know? I’m just now getting a chance to pick your brain and find out where you are at with Bikram yoga, and what you’re doing now. So on that note, can you just start telling me and filling me in on your journey? And I guess I’ll be a little more specific. Let’s go way, way back. Can you tell me the first time you start practicing yoga? What was the first yoga class you ever got a chance to take?

Michael Harris

Absolutely. You know, the first time that I took a yoga class was 1988. Yes. Or excuse me,1987. I had vascular surgery in November of 1986. I had blocked arteries. The doctors at the time suggested that they may need to amputate my leg. I was pretty blunt to them and saying that that wasn’t gonna happen. I ended up at a place called Pritikin Longevity Center, which is in Santa Monica, but no longer there. By the ocean right down on the boardwalk pretty close to the Santa Monica Pier. When I first got there, I was walking on a cane I could walk literally about 10 feet. Cane in one hand, my other hand on the wall. Well, I could barely walk. To make a long story much shorter. The doctors that I was seeing in Portland for my vascular disease suggested that when it hurt that I should not move my body. And not to walk. The doctor at the Pritikin Center said when it hurts, keep walking. In hindsight, it was a huge spiritual wake up call to me. It was one of a number of times that I can identify over the years. But that particular one, he says get up and walk and walk through the pain. He says I just want you to go out there on the boardwalk and start walking. Initially, I was pretty scared to. I was in serious pain and was nervous because the movement seem to make me feel more pain. Yet he said, “Yes, it’s gonna hurt.” And he says, “Just keep doing what you can do.” Well, here I am. You know, 1987 that was actually March of 1987. There was a lot of women on rollerblades. And here I am. I’m a sick man. And I don’t want to be a sick man. I want to feel strong and healthy. And I had already had a lot of self esteem issues and everything else that I’ve struggled with. And so I wanted to walk tall. So within two weeks, I went from walking 10 feet to two miles, unassisted without my cane without a wall. 

TM

Wow. 

MH

And the sheer process of moving my body. Of walking, going one foot in front of the next, helped to build new blood vessels in my leg and collateral blood vessels. 

TM

Wow. 

MH

So as those new vessels were being built, in addition to that, the popliteal arteries where the primary blockages were began to heal as well. So not only was I getting the collaterals, I was also getting the popliteal artery to begin to heal. So answering your question about the first yoga class, the first yoga class was at the Pritikin Longevity Center. Now, granted, it wasn’t a very vigorous class. It was mostly for people in rehabilitation of some sort. It was really known more for weight loss. Although I wasn’t heavy, I’ve never really been heavy in my life. So losing weight wasn’t my challenge, they actually wanted me to gain weight. But there’s also a plant based facility at Pritikin Longevity Center. So they said I can eat as much food as I want. So I was walking, I started doing some yoga classes in the basement, and I was eating all the plant based food I could possibly eat.

TM

Nice. 

MH

Yeah, it was good. 

TM

Well, that’s incredible! That’s a really great story in terms of endurance and overcoming, like you said, that fear of working into the pain. Having that question like, “what do you mean…..walk more?” That whole transformation process of pushing through that. I’m curious, from taking yoga in the Pritikin environment there. What was your next step in relation to seeking other types of yoga? What was the evolution? How did it evolve from here?

MH

Yep. Well, I was living in Portland at the time, so I was just down there for the Pritikin Center. And when I went back to Portland, I started going to a yoga class at the gym. Because I was doing the gym, I was doing the treadmill. When I first started doing the treadmill, actually, was at Pritikin Center. I was going point three miles an hour.  As slow as the treadmill would move. That’s how slow I was going. And I was struggling. But I did more at the gym. And I was also walking in a park near my house as much as I could, but they had a yoga class there. And I would not call it a gym yoga, you know, however you want to perceive that to be, but it was a wonderful class. And at the end, they did candle gazing and I really liked it. When they would have me do downward dog. I would fall out of it. I couldn’t do much. But it led me to another general hatha yoga class. Diane Wilson was quite important for years. And I started taking her class. And I’m kind of jumping here ahead a little bit. I started doing Ashtanga Yoga. I saw a flyer for Yoga for Skiers. And I hadn’t skied for years because my condition and I want to get back to skiing. Somebody named Beryl Bender Birch was in Portland teaching and I thought, well, I’m gonna go to this thing and see if I can start skiing again. Well, I had what some people would call perhaps a kundalini experience and feeling the sensations in my body. Like tears flowing and just like opening up. Through this process and diving into Ashtanga I did a lot of stuff with David Swenson and a guy named Clifford. A lot of people don’t know who he was. He was one of the really early people. Nancy Gilgoff. I got a lot of time with her over in Maui. 

TM

Isn’t her place amazing? When you gotta look for the tomato sign when you’re driving up country on Maui? Everyone tells you like look for the tomato farm sign and then pull it you’ll find the house of Zen right? Is it called House of yoga and Zen or house of Zen? What a great little setup. That little wooden barn kind of yoga studio structure on that farm. Wow, studying with Nancy is like a real treat. That’s amazing. That’s cool, Michael.  I love David Swenson. I’ve never had a chance to practice with Beryl Bender Birch, but she’s a bit of a legend in the Ashtanga vinyasa world as well.

MH

Yeah. And a little bit more in synchronicity with Nancy. I don’t like staying in motels or hotels. So I was looking for a place to stay in apartment, a house something to rent. I rented this place. And you know, this guy named Gary and I called him and I said, Oh, do you know that Nancy? He says, oh, yeah, and that was about it. Didn’t say much. Well, when I got there, and it was rented apartment in his basement, do you know who Gary Kraftsow is?

TM

Oh yeah, he’s one of the famous teachers of Viniyoga. 

MH

One of his primary teachers was really close to Desikachar. I had no idea when I rented this place who it was. So here I am staying at Gary Kraftsow’s house. Also studying with Nancy. Wow. It was just like, you know, I mean, totally immersed.

TM

That’s right. When I lived on Maui for a year, and I remember seeing that he had a center in the upcountry area when I started looking into yoga. I never went but I remember his place was associated with a bodywork studio that always looked so interesting to me. That’s really cool. I can imagine that. Yeah, you’re staying with Gary, you’re getting your butt kicked with Nancy and in a good way. So at this point, I’m thinking you’ve made a pretty radical transformation from holding on to the wall walking 10 steps, if you’re hanging out with these yoga legends? Were you “back to normal” at this point? Where are you at at this phase?

You can listen to the full episode for free here: https://nativeyogacenter.buzzsprout.com

Thanks for reading this blog post from this podcast episode. Check out: 👇
Native Yoga Teacher Training – In Studio and Livestream – for info delivered to your email click this link here: https://info.nativeyogacenter.com/native-yoga-teacher-training-2023/

https://info.nativeyogacenter.com/native-yoga-teacher-training-2023/

New Student Livestream Special ~ Try 2 Weeks of Free Unlimited Livestream Yoga Classes  at Native Yoga Center. Sign into the classes you would like to take and you will receive an email 30 minutes prior to join on Zoom. The class is recorded and uploaded to nativeyogaonline.com ~ Click Here to join.

New Student FREE 30 Minute Yoga Meet & Greet ~ Are you new to Native Yoga Center and have questions that you would like us to address? Whether you are coming to In Studio, Livestream or Online Recorded Classes we offer a one time complimentary 30 minute zoom meeting to answer any questions you may have. Schedule a time that is convenient for you. Click Here

Native Yoga website: nativeyogacenter.com
Online Yoga Class Library: nativeyogaonline.com
Thai Massage info: palmbeachthaimassage.com
Native Yoga Blog: toddasanayoga.com
Instagram: @nativeyoga
YouTube channel: Native Yoga Center

Listen to the podcast here on our Podcast website: Native Yoga Toddcast

Please email special requests and feedback to info@nativeyogacenter.com
Please share this episode with your friends, rate & review and join us next time.

Conversation with Eric Shaw ~ The Sacred Thread of Yoga Philosophy

Ever wonder if there is more to yoga than yoga postures? Join my guest Eric Shaw for a discussion around his new book called Sacred Thread: A Comprehensive Yoga Timeline: 2000 Events that Shaped Yoga History.  Eric’s teachings and passions have been influenced significantly by his teachers, in particular Shandor Remete and Rod Stryker. You can visit Eric on his website at prasanayoga.com and you can purchase a copy of Eric’s new book on Amazon here.

During this conversation we discussed:

  • the history and philosophy of yoga
  • the timeline associated with modern yoga
  • the origins of yoga in relation to the archeological findings at Mohenjo-daro
  • Eric’s experience with Iyengar yoga
  • What yoga was like on the West Coast of USA during its peak
  • Yoga as a global realization vs. a cultural specific identity

and quite a few more topics.

You can listen to the full podcast episode with Eric Shaw on our podcast site here.

Todd McLaughlin

I am so excited to have the opportunity to join in conversation with Eric Shaw today. Please find him on his website, prasanayoga.com. You can click the link in the description to easily access his work. He is the author of a book called BKS Iyengar and the Making of Modern Yoga. And he has also just released a new book called Sacred Thread: A Comprehensive Yoga Timeline: 2000 Events That Shaped Yoga History. 

Eric Shaw

Yeah, yes. 

TM

Thank you, Eric. And I’m so happy to have this chance to speak with you. I love yoga philosophy. And you’ve done a lot study. And on that note, can you fill me and the listener in….have you gotten your doctorate degree yoga studies?

ES

No, I’ve done a lot of a lot of academic work. I started a doctoral program in 2004, finished my studies in 2011 and pretty much got the knowledge base that I desired at that time. I was able to parlay that into practical purposes. It’s kind of like I feel like it’s something I want to do that is like climbing Mount Everest. 

But yeah, I didn’t get it done at that point in my life. I could talk all day about why it didn’t happen. Yet I did get a master’s degree out of it and I got a knowledge base. It was quite useful for me for writing work and lecturing work in the yoga world.

TM

Nice. Well, when you had to write a thesis for your masters, what did you base your thesis on?

ES

I based it on the life of BKS Iyengar. I did a very deep study of him. Partly because his followers were so prominent in the Bay Area where I was working in San Francisco. And because that system, according to my training was so alien to me. I was so confronted by it. Iyengar’s system, as everyone knows who studied it, it’s arguably the most comprehensive yoga system out there. You know, unless you went to some ancient system, perhaps as far as the modern systems go, it’s complexity, it’s philosophy, it’s understanding the body and the way that it’s set up structurally to function. The Iyengar view of function in yoga is very clear and vastly articulated. So the people who teach it, have a pedagogy, a pedagogical style, a teaching style, which is strangely aggressive. That’s to say, all those things were quite confronting to me when I arrived in the Bay Area in 2004. After training in Kripalu Yoga and other forms of yoga, which were much more meditative, and much more I thought holistic based. Pranayama based in spiritual aims. Here I was faced with this very physical culturalist yoga, which some people from that tradition might argue with me as characterizing it that way. But to me, it was so body centric and so awesomeness centric. That I think it’s kind of strange to say in the year 2022, because yoga has become more and more and more body centric. I mean, it’s been a processes happening for hundreds of years. But it seems like it’s only been accelerated. It’s come into the American context. But for me, that was difficult. And part of my working that out, to write this mono focal paper on my anger.

TM

Wow! Let me back up so I can get a timeline of your history of practice. When did you start practicing yoga? What was your first introduction to the yoga world?

ES

It’s kind of an interesting, funny story, given my history. My parents were ministers. And they were very open minded liberal ministers. They come from the west coast. So it’s very much different from the south where I’m living now. Yeah, yeah. Me talking about Christianity in this part of the world. But where I came from, they were liberals, they were, you know, anti war protesters. They were raging leftist. So I did get a political orientation in my Christian experience, but it wasn’t a right wing one, it was a radical left wing. So that was my background. And so there was a certain openness there to intellectuality at all levels. So when I told my parents I was an atheist, they didn’t bat an eye. When I told my parents that I was into Eastern traditions and studying Buddhism and meditation, they didn’t bat an eye, you know. So that became my practice very early on in my early 20s, and very much a life saving practice, because my mind was kind of out of control. And it may still sound that way. But meditation helped me control my life. And I dove right into meditation and have maintained that practice to this very day. 

TM

Got it. 

ES

So like, I did some early investigation in Buddhist traditions. And it wasn’t till the early 90s that I joined Siddha Yoga, which is the Hindu tradition, I actually did that in the midst of a time I was studying Christianity and a Religious Studies degree in many Minneapolis, Minnesota. But that kind of opened the Hindu world to me a little bit. And then when I started practicing Hatha Yoga in 2000, then I started to investigate Hinduism more properly and understand how different it was from the Buddhist tradition. How much richer, how much more embracing of the human experience and all of its aspects and even culture in all of its aspects. And so it was incredibly compelling to me, given my background and it pretty much became a gestalt experience for me, I just dove right into it.

TM

Wow. You made mention of the appreciation for Iyengar tradition and Iyengar’s guru being Krishnamacharya. Did you investigate other practices with any other teachers under that lineage?

ES

Yeah, actually with quite a few. I mean, the Bay Area, as I said, was a hotbed of strong Iyengar teachers. So it was easy to study with strong teachers who not only came to town to teach, but who were residents there. So my chief preceptor was Tony Briggs and he had a relationship to Shandor Remete, who was my primary teacher. A teacher I’d met actually was still in Portland, Oregon and before 2004 started studying with Matt Hewish at the time, who was a primary follower of Shandor. Strange to talk about Shandor in the Iyengar context, because few people even know that he studied with Iyengar. He actually stayed with him for 20 years, extremely long time and he was actually the president of the Iyengar Federation in Australia. But he made a jump to  embrace of martial arts and Bharatanatyam yoga, or rather Indian dance and he integrated into practices that he claimed to have learned at the Chidambaram temple in India into a new form that he called Shadow yoga. He’s continued to evolve his forms and change the names of them, but I learned from him and his teaching was profound and very vinyasa based, very movement based. But he was an Iyengar teacher. And then Tony. Tony had worked with Shandor, or so that was my connection with Tony. But Tony was a classic Iyengar teacher. I mean, he was gonna put you in a pose and hold you there and break it down into all its constituent parts in which muscles are engaged, and released and yada, yada, yada. So that training and another with Ramadan Patel and other big names in the Bay Area helped me understand asana and the alignment perspective, which I feel is, is very, very important. I mean, it’s at so many levels. But then I also worked with Paul Grilley, who was into kind of destroying the whole alignment concept. So I got a lot of a lot of input around yogic philosophy and yoga practice in those years that are invaluable.

TM

Amazing, just to touch upon what you just mentioned, I’ve enjoyed watching Paul Grilley’s work around anatomy and yin yoga, can you explain how Paul’s philosophy shatter that existing idea of alignment that you were studying? Can you tell me what that means? Or what that sounds like?

ES

Yeah, yeah. And it’s a good story. I think for anybody who wants to be a serious practitioner of yoga, I think it’s important to understand alignment principles, particularly from the Iyengar perspective, but it’s also very important to understand their limits. And Paul has done the spade work, he’s done the deep work in defining those limits. And I’m just shocked that so few people know his work, because it’s utterly revolutionary. Even if you don’t have Iyengar as a conversation partner for it. So Paul Grilley, you know, he’s ostensibly known for his work in yin yoga. And that’s how I first understood him and met him in yoga was my actually my teaching practice early on, because he was one of the first major teachers I met in Portland, Oregon. I wrote a small profile for him for a local yoga magazine, and we got to be friends. Then he was in an early video company making videos on yoga, you know, and when DVD still existed. A group of people there in San Francisco, who I met and hung out with, and then Paul was a part of that group, and he came down to do yoga videos there. And so he wrote, when I was there in San Francisco, and he recorded his Yoga Anatomy DVD, in which he distills all of his knowledge around bony limits in the body. So it’s the skeletal structure of the body, which determines which poses you can get and in which you can’t. And that’s, I know, that’s a very black and white statement. But it’s actually quite true that the soft tissue, of course, creates limits that we can push through in the attempt to attain any given Asana. And that’s what Iyengar practices are based on. That there is a limitless potential to achieve anything in yoga. Paul Grilley’s work debunked that theory in a way showing that bone structure does create limitation as to how far we can push into a posture. What he really determined and demonstrated directly in that DVD by comparing different human bodies, that the length of your bones, the orientation of the bones, in a given joint, the way it spirals out of that joint, the way it engages with the next joint in the chain determines whether or not any given poses even available. And that’s for a yoga teacher, who is attempting to guide students of different shapes and sizes into positions, proposes knowledge that is absolutely critical. Particularly if you’ve been trained in Iyengar yoga, because it does not integrate that knowledge. In fact, it’s kind of philosophically opposed to it.

Listen to the full episode with Eric Shaw for free on our podcast site here.

Thanks for reading this blog post from this podcast episode. Check out: 👇
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Sara Webb – Meditation is Medicine

Engage your listening senses with this conversation I had the pleasure of having with Sara Webb. Sara Webb is an author, inspirational speaker, and meditation healer empowering seekers to go from stress to success. Her life mission is to inspire people to access the power within themselves by teaching pocket-sized meditation techniques to improve daily happiness so people can bring the best versions of themselves to their own lives.

Visit Sara’s website at www.sarawebbsays.com
Check out Sara’s new book here: Amazon – Balboa Press – Barnes & Noble

Listen to the full conversation for free here.

During this conversation we discussed:

  • the importance of daily meditation
  • her passion for public speaking in the corporate environment
  • how to build trust after being harmed
  • how Sara has been able to recover from little “t” and BIG “T” trauma in her life
  • the role recovery has played in her healing journey
  • her books and her writing process
  • the importance of yoga practice in her life

And so MUCH more!

Remember to visit Sara’s website at www.sarawebbsays.com
Also don’t forget to check out Sara’s new book here: Amazon – Balboa Press – Barnes & Noble

Below is an excerpt form the conversation I had with Sara.

Todd McLaughlin

What is an example of a public speaking event that you’ve done recently.

Sara Webb

I’ve done all manner of things. I do a lot of corporate events, working directly with business owners and managers in order to help their staff deal with stress. I mean, a lot of times, we don’t realize the great power that we have with our breath. 

If we can realize that when we’re in that fight or flight mode, that we’re not breathing properly, we’re not breathing from the belly. That’s a physiological, ancient physiology that we have carried over from when we were hunters and gatherers. You know, this autonomic nervous system that we have breeds for us, and beats our hearts and controls our sweat glands and salivary glands and blinking. But when the sympathetic nervous system is activated, that’s what we typically call the “fight or flight.” We begin chest breathing from the upper part of our chest, which is really great if we need to actually fight or flee. 

But when it’s traffic and deadlines, and our bosses and our spouses and our kids, it can really build up and flood our blood with cortisol. We’ve heard some about that, and people are now pushing pills to get rid of cortisol when really, if we could just get in touch with what’s going on in our bodies, and learn how to belly breathe we can fix this problem. This is such an easy, portable, free way to tap into what’s going on in our bodies. And then people can learn how to process stress and actually ground themselves in where they are, especially in the workplace. 

We have to work around people who maybe aren’t our favorite people. And so I do a lot of corporate trainings during the week. My wife is a dentist and so I got started doing that at her corporate gatherings. I do conferences and private conferences. I’ve done sweet 16 parties. I mean, I’ve spoken at sober retreats, you name it, I’ve done it. And I really just enjoy interacting with people in that way. Where they always come away and they say, wow, I really think I learned something new. I think that there’s a couple of simple facts that most people don’t understand about meditation. 

Because as I mentioned, that’s my real passion. I kind of trick people into learning about meditation by talking about stress, because meditation is that wonderful way for us to get rid of our stress. And I am just such a seeker, I wanted to know, why is it that meditation works. And I’ll give you a couple of facts….. all around us at every single moment, it doesn’t matter if we’re on top of the hill, or in a busy street the scientists have calculated that we have access to about several billions of bits of data. And the human brain is pretty amazing and can process around 11 million bits per second. But we’re only conscious of between 40 and 50 of the 11 million bits per second that our brains and our bodies have access to. So I did the math there, that means we’re conscious of .04% of everything that’s actually being processed by our brains and our bodies. And 99.96% of everything that’s available to us is being processed by our subconscious. 

Now we have five senses. And we have 11 million sensory receptors, the 10 million or so of the sensory receptors are dedicated to one sense, our eye site. So if you want to access to 99.96% of information that’s already inside of you shut off access to 10 million of the 11 million sensory receptors, ie. close your eyes and go inside. That’s where the magic is, that’s where the subconscious can begin to bubble up. 

Because we’re literally getting into the brainwaves where our subconscious lives, if we only stay in beta and beta is stressed, then we’re not going to ever be able to have access to that. The only time during waking hours when we drop into that subconscious state, which is the theta wave in between alpha and delta, which is where most meditation is. Deep sleep is theta. 

When some people are stressed, they like to drive, or they like to go and work on something that is repetitive. That’s because when we drop into repetitive things our subconscious is in control because you don’t have to think about it anymore. That allows the subconscious to bubble up, but our eyes are still open. And so think about how much more powerful it is to actually close the eyes, and then go inside.

Todd McLaughlin

Yeah, good point. That’s interesting. Can you give me an example or an idea of when you decided or felt that you wanted to heal the trauma that you had experienced? Was there some sort of catalyst that I mean, I’m guessing that there probably was something inside that said, “Okay, I realized something has happened. But I’d prefer just not to look at it.” What was the catalyst that helped you to turn that corner and feel like you wanted to be brave and process and heal and go through the therapy to come out the other side?

Sara Webb

Great question. I mean, I’ve always known about what happened. It’s just that I repressed it, I told my sister I did not go to the police, I barely told anyone much less dealt with it myself. When I began to get sober, which started in the end of 2018, I didn’t actually succeed with continuous sobriety until the end of 2019. So it took me a little over a year, almost a year and a half to actually be sober, and then an event would happen and we have this in the general collective that like, alcohol can be used to de-stress, which is an absolute lie. It actually causes stress in the body. So it took me a little while, but once I started playing with sobriety and had bouts of sobriety, I realized most poignantly that I needed alcohol in order to be intimate with my now ex husband. And I knew what even though I was gay, through college and a little bit after college, I called myself bisexual, and I only dated women, but I repressed that because I wanted to have a baby and I knew that my very strict Southern Baptist parents would not accept me for who I am. And to this day, they do not accept me for who I am. So in answer to your question, yeah, when when we get sober a lot of people deal with anger that is kind of unexplained. They’re just not really sure why, but it’s because we have been repressing by drinking. And then we have no outlet to numb with. I didn’t have that initially. 

But what I did have was when I got re-married, and we started blending households, because I have a biological child, she has two you know, that’s, that’s no joke. And I started noticing that my go to response was anger, which, and I put out a reel on this recently, you know, usually anger is, is not actually a primary emotion, it’s a secondary emotion. And it indicates that there’s hurt underneath either sadness or fear usually. 

So I started seeing a transpersonal interpersonal hypnotherapist in order to deal with the anger. And that’s when memory surfaced. And I was able to deal with them in a really beautiful way. It wasn’t immediate, and it certainly wasn’t easy. But healing requires injury and healing hurt. The result is always worth it.

Todd McLaughlin

Wow. Well, I appreciate you being so honest and sharing your story. That’s incredible. I think it’s empowering, because I know that there’s obviously a lot of us who probably have experienced trauma. Well, I guess, like you said, there’s the “big T” and the “little t.” So would you say that everybody has had some sort of “little t” trauma? Like, for example, someone made fun of us on the playground? A million or two different things that have happened could have happened. How many of us have experienced the “big T” trauma? What do you think the percentages are? I mean, like half the world, a third of the world, one in 100? Because I just wonder that sometimes it seems like I don’t know that anybody could get through life without having some type of “big T” experience. But maybe that’s because if I do have experience, then I think well, maybe probably everyone has. Perhaps it’s a smaller minority a smaller group of people that have. Do you have any insights into that?

Sara Webb

I wish I had the statistics! I’m definitely going to look it up. But even if we just look at, like, reports of sexual trauma with women, it’s one in three. And I didn’t report and I know a lot of other people who didn’t. So if you just look at that, it’s a high percentage. And and let’s not diminish that “little T” trauma. 

Because it’s all relative, and vibrationally, if we just look at it. So everything that happens in our lives before the development of the prefrontal cortex would start around the age of 10. So everything from pretty much ages, like four to eight is when our brains are in that meditative state, we haven’t gone up into beta. Around the age of 10, is when we really fully start to inhabit beta. 

Everything before that our brains take in as beliefs, basic beliefs about how the world is so for somebody like me, I saw people drinking, I grew up outside of New Orleans. I mean, drinking is just what people do. And I’m sure that’s for a lot of the world, you know, it’s just it’s very common. And so one of the beliefs that I had is that alcohol is safe. And if you have a “little T” trauma, “big T” trauma, some uncle that habitually made fun of you, a person on the playground who did something that could be seen as traumatic when it’s done, even once or twice, we can carry that vibration that belief with us into our adulthood and continue to attract those things into our lives. Because it’s something that we need to heal.

So it doesn’t matter if it’s seemingly small, it might be perpetuating itself as to a lack of abundance in our lives or a thinking that no one likes us. Then that can continue to play out in the workplace. And, you know, social groups, it doesn’t matter where it is. Because we’re basically here to heal.

Thanks for reading this blog post from this podcast episode. Check out: 👇
Native Yoga Teacher Training – In Studio and Livestream – for info delivered to your email click this link here: https://info.nativeyogacenter.com/native-yoga-teacher-training-2023/

https://info.nativeyogacenter.com/native-yoga-teacher-training-2023/

New Student Livestream Special ~ Try 2 Weeks of Free Unlimited Livestream Yoga Classes  at Native Yoga Center. Sign into the classes you would like to take and you will receive an email 30 minutes prior to join on Zoom. The class is recorded and uploaded to nativeyogaonline.com ~ Click Here to join.

New Student FREE 30 Minute Yoga Meet & Greet ~ Are you new to Native Yoga Center and have questions that you would like us to address? Whether you are coming to In Studio, Livestream or Online Recorded Classes we offer a one time complimentary 30 minute zoom meeting to answer any questions you may have. Schedule a time that is convenient for you. Click Here

Native Yoga website: nativeyogacenter.com
Online Yoga Class Library: nativeyogaonline.com
Thai Massage info: palmbeachthaimassage.com
Native Yoga Blog: toddasanayoga.com
Instagram: @nativeyoga
YouTube channel: Native Yoga Center

Listen to the podcast here on our Podcast website: Native Yoga Toddcast

Please email special requests and feedback to info@nativeyogacenter.com
Please share this episode with your friends, rate & review and join us next time.