We Get By With a Little Help From Our Friends

Day 10 – No Shave Yoga Event – #yogabeardsunite – We Get By With a Little Help From Our Friends  
The vibe in the shala was incredible today. The pranayama circle actually grew in size since last week. The sustained focus required to move through the routine definitely enhances awareness and is a great way to prepare for an asana practice. I think I also am still feeling the positive effects of practicing with David Miliotis here this last weekend. One way or another everybody decided to come to the studio today which made for an amazing, busy and sweaty practice session. I was so excited when Greg Nardi showed up for one more practice here before his journey to Mysore, India next week. When he finished his routine he asked me if I needed his help which totally made my day. What a treat to have him teach here unexpectedly! I think the students were stoked as well to get some great attention and adjustments from him. We were able to wrap it all up at the end with the group chanting and singing the Hanuman Chalisa. Sometimes during the summer things slow down and I will sing it on Tuesdays with just one or two other students in the room. Today brought me tremendous inspiration to have the support and enthusiasm from such a positive group.

  
Today is Day 10 of our No Shave Yoga Event. We are a third of the way through the month and we are also a third of the way toward achieving our fundraising goal as a team this month. Thank you to everyone who has donated thus far. With your help we are moving closer to achieving our goal to raise funds for those who are in need and help raise awareness of the positive benefits yoga can have within the community. 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

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

Mystery versus Mastery

Mystery versus Mastery  
A couple of really great questions were asked during the training today. One of them was, “Is it possible to master a yoga pose?” The question arises because we are striving to achieve a certain form with our bodies that is often measured against someone else’s ability. There are certain criteria points that are looked for to ascertain if one is able to progress to the next stage or posture in the Ashtanga sequences. 

  
Take for example the pose Eka Pada Bakasana. This is one of the most challenging of the arm balance poses in the 3rd series to enter into “correctly.” You balance on your hands while resting one knee in the same side armpit and simultaneously lift the opposite leg high above behind creating a counterbalance effect that requires significant strength but more importantly alert proprioceptive awareness. What makes it really challenging is the entry into the pose is from a tripod headstand. So one element of the question regarding this pose is how high does that back leg knee to go in order to be considered a “complete pose?” The evolution of the question turned to “Is it possible to create a perfect pose?” 

  
Tim’s response was, “Perfectionism is a curse.” He also said, “Mastery is a pretty highfalutin thing!” Plenty of giggles were heard after that comment. He continued by stating, “I think it is more about mystery, not mastery.” This was the perfect statement for me to hear today. I really love this. The definition of mystery is something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain. As opposed to mastery which is control or superiority over someone or something. Naturally mastery might seem more appealing because it implies that we are in control and the nature of the mind is to desire permanence in all of our endeavors. Whereas mystery leaves the door open for interpretation which encourages self inquiry to determine ones own experience of what perfect is. This potentially could be a crux in the development of our own yoga practice. I believe that it is positive to have an ideal to strive for initially to encourage us to move beyond our own habit patterns. In the end though it is necessary for us to really probe mystery and or even to surrender to it.

  
Another question that I enjoyed was, “Is there a connection between physical posture alignment and ‘getting our head straight?’” Tim’s response to this was, “I hope so!” There was laughter all around to that one. He also said, “Typically the personality of the person comes through in the way that they practice.” This might seem obvious but I still found it quite profound. This is where having a teacher can be so beneficial because if the teacher can see this and offer “adjustments” to help transform the practitioners imbalance, one can truly “realign” both physically and mentally. 

  
Tim had mentioned a book by Chogyam Trungpa called “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism.” In it he mentioned how the author describes that there is this phenomenon when we begin to achieve spiritual wisdom that we feel quite enlightened and liberated. Yet because our old habits run deep we then start to build our own samskaras, or “habit patterns,” into our practice and then often become deceived that we have truly evolved. What once seemed like freedom actually becomes a cage. So what is the answer then? Tim’s reply was, “Don’t be a perfectionist!” This is definitely something to think about.