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

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Nona Mileva – Tapping into the Yoga Well

Check out this discussion I had with Nona Mileva. Visit Nona at her website wellyoga.net. Nona is a Certified Life, Wellness and Health Coach, Yoga Teacher and Educator, based in Jupiter, FL, United States. She works with a wide range of clients, from variuos backgrounds and age, via in person,  phone or Zoom sessions. Her coaching is holistic. It entails all aspects of the client’s life – emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual , as it authentically reflects the most important human needs. She focuses on the therapeutic modalities and applications of Yoga as a practice and discipline that enhances health and wellbeing. 

You can listen to the full podcast episode for free here.

Todd McLaughlin 

I’m so happy to have Nona Mileva here visiting in Native Yoga Center. We get to do an in person podcast! Nona, How are you doing today?

Nona Mileva

I am good. Thank you so much for having me. Good to see you.

TM

Same as well, I got to meet you, Nona, because you came into Native Yoga Center very enthusiastically inquiring about yoga teacher training a few years ago. You completed our 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training which brought you into like the RYT 500. realm. And you also are involved in teaching in Stuart at a place called District 108, in Stuart, Florida. Also at the Powerhouse Gym in Stuart. You also teach therapeutic yoga in some of the local retirement communities. You have recently completed getting your PhD in health psychology. And you’re currently working toward Yoga Therapy Certification. Which you said will be completed in December 2022. So you’ve been very busy…. And that’s something that I really admire about you is you love to study. You put a lot of time and energy into reading and studying. And you’re you’ve expressed a lot of interest and enthusiasm for the history and the philosophy of yoga. And so that’s why I’m really excited to have you here today. Because I can just pick your brain a bit and see what kind of like “Top hits” have made it onto your playlist for yoga philosophy and yoga history. And so on that note, what is something that you have read about and or practiced or studied recently that’s caught your attention that you’re excited about?

NM

How I love how you you’re beginning this conversation? Thank you for the intro firstly. Yes, I have been busy. And this is just, what can I say, my mode of functioning, learning, being always curious about things and topics. So my latest educational conquests, so to speak, or interests have been since COVID. Which, as you know, was to some extent, a traumatic experience. Then from a different perspective, it opened new doors. It made us more creative, looking for opportunities to keep doing what we love doing, which for us is yoga, obviously if we are talking about it. I have begun studying and doing a yoga philosophy course, of course is online, with Professor Edwin Bryant. He’s one of the most renowned names among Hindu researchers and philosophers and translators in the field. He’s at Rutgers University in…. I think it’s New Jersey or New York. So what he started doing is to record all his lectures, and then putting them up online for free. 

TM

Wow!

NM

Absolutely amazing, isn’t it? 

TM

Yeah. 

NM

Yeah. It always amazes me when people share their knowledge with such immense generosity. So that got me into the groove of daily or twice a week. Sit down through those lectures or just doing my thing and listening to them. And pretty much it’s all the six directionals, the schools of various philosophical discourse and the man is a very knowledgeable teacher and scholar. He knows a lot about everything. His focus is bhakti. He is initiated in this tradition. 

TM

So can you explain bhakti to us?

NM

In the discourse of yoga, bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion. It’s the kind of yoga that is being practiced as a devotional yoga. Practitioners direct their attention, their energy towards a benevolent worship of a deity. In this case, usually Krishna is the the subject of the affection. There is lots of mantra and chanting. There’s lots of dancing and singing, praising, praising the Bhagavan. So think of the Bhagavata Purana, those ancient texts. All the Krishna stories, by the way, they’re amazing, amazingly entertaining and interesting stories. If anyone really wants to learn more about them, just go read them. They’re with tremendous sense of humor also created so many years ago. Yeah, so we would sit through those, he would just open the texts, and to about 300 people there, either live or from the recorded lectures will be listening and then following the stories, he would stop you with comments. And this, this goes for every subject. Whether you want to learn about like Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, whether you want to learn about Vedanta sutras, or Nyaya but more the stories of Krishna. So that’s what I kept doing for about a year, then he started doing live svadhyaya sessions every Friday. 

TM

I’m imagining that there might be someone listening that doesn’t know any of the Sanskrit terms. So that’s why it might just stop you every now and again and let you define some of the words. So if someone’s listening, that’s like a brand new listener slash just coming into the yoga fold. There’s a lot of Sanskrit terms that once you start to learn them, it gets easier and easier. Once you learn one, you learn another and before you know it, you can listen to these really in depth conversations about the yoga history and philosophy and know exactly what’s going on. But in the beginning, it’s really common to feel like a “fish out of water,” or have no idea what they’re talking about. So on that note, can you define what svadhyaya is to keep everyone up to speed?

NM

Yes and once you get to actually work with those terms, it becomes kind of a second nature. And you don’t think that yes, there are people who still haven’t gotten there. So apologies again. So the idea is the concept of studying. So it could be defined as a studying about the self. That’s the obtaining of self knowledge through a variety of practices. But it is it does become by itself a practice. It could be even a spiritual practice. So you get to define it as for example, spending time with the sacred texts. So you sit down and you study, you read the text from the Upanishads, or from the later Puranas, or you open Patanjali yoga sutras and this is your weekend. Yeah, this is your weekend. What are you doing? I’m doing yoga psychology, how I’m just staring at Patanjali, sutra number, whatever. Trying to figure it out to study is that concept of the bhaktis. For the wisdom, another, I’m drawing attention. I’m throwing another Sanskrit word in Sangha, which means pretty much your social group. Yeah. What is your community? Yeah, let’s hang together with like minded people. Yep. And do our thing. What is our thing? We’re reading the scriptures. Yeah. Or in my case, I’m listening to someone much more knowledgeable. And they read it. And he’s reading the scriptures. He’s commenting on them, we get to ask questions.

TM

Was that the difference? So actually, let me back up a little bit. Is that something that anyone listening can go to Edwin Bryant’s

Website. And by the way, at the end of the podcast, I will be happy to provide you with all the resources and links and the names that I’m throwing in here. So you can post it through your audience and I’ll be so happy for people actually go there and look up at this stuff because there’s so much available in the way of information out there that we just are not aware of. Yeah. So EdwinBryant.org, very cool website. It’s connected to the Rutgers University. As a matter of fact, the last study I did with him was on the Bhagavad Gita. I think it was… I forgot which ones, my memories also don’ serve me always. But starting four weeks from now, we are he’s doing a six week or an eight week course on Bhagavata Purana. He loves the back story. So that kind of yoga, devotional yoga, the yoga of love there. There’s a lot of kindness and love and compassion about this concept. I just was even listening to someone who has devoted pretty much his life and passion to that. Yeah, I think it’s amazing.

TM

It is amazing. 

NM

It obviously takes cultivating it over a long period of time. Little by little before you know it, you understand these stories a little better. It makes sense. And that’s cool. 

TM

So it sounds like the interaction process with that particular training method you enjoyed. Was that the first way you started listening to his philosophy teachings not interactive? And then that the svadhyaya ones was where you could maybe type in questions into the chat box. Is that how that was going down?

NM

Yeah. So you can do either, you can buy the pre recorded lectures, the lectures for students. We are a neutral audience, we have no access to the direct communication, we watch the recordings. But because the content is all out there, you can watch it at any time you want to watch it. The Friday sessions are live sessions, but he also records them and then post them online. So if you miss a Friday because you really want to go for that happy hour Friday, then you can watch it or listen to it the next day.

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

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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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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

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