Often I find myself on the brink of judgment…judgment of others. Yes, I am aware that this is not exactly a desirable quality for a yoga instructor, but I am human. Keeping your cool in this hot, hot world is a challenge for everyone, but where do you draw the line between judgment and compassion? Let’s say a co-worker who comes across as lazy and professionally inept confides (or complains…depending on how you wish to interpret it) in you about a myriad of personal problems including his financial losses and inability to pay child support to two different ex-wives. Is he reaching out for help by phishing for advice, friendship, or maybe even a compliment? Another co-worker who rendered herself as completely useless and incompetent by asking questions like “will the internet being down affect the fax machine?” irks you to your very core. However, you learn that this poor woman’s son is extremely ill and despite the bleak circumstances of her personal life she shows up to work with a smile on her face every day. Does your perspective change? How can you go from “what an absolute idiot!” to “Oh, that poor woman?”
Wednesday, 04 January 2012
What is this crazy idea of “oneness” that lies at the heart of each yoga class and is prescribed by every piece of yoga literature out there? How the heck are you supposed to experience wholeness, balance, “oneness” (insert your own adjective here) if some aspect of your life is always out of whack? All right, so maybe you’ve nurtured your personal relationships with utmost diligence and finally your personal and social life is falling into place. Nonetheless, and similar to a game of Jenga, the moment a single puzzle piece actually fits nicely into the manifold of bullshit we call life another piece slips out propelling us into yet another hot mess. Whether you are dealing with professional purgatory in our weak-sauce economy or social isolation because your last beau was a badass, and not the sexy kind. When one door slams in your face another one will open. I hope. It is impossible to control or to foresee the little games life plays with us, or shall I say on us.
Saturday, 17 September 2011
LET THE VIDEO SPEAK FOR ITSELF...
Thursday, 04 August 2011
Wednesday, 03 August 2011
I was passively watching TV the other night with my dad and when a story on Real Sports with Bryant Gumble came on that absolutely captivated me. Ashrita Furman, a.k.a. Mr. Versatility is a 56-year-old health foods store manager from NYC. Ok, that seems pretty normal; however, this 56-year-old stud also holds the record for breaking the most Guinness records! This self-proclaimed "non-athlete" performs the most outrageous feats in the most exotic of locales. A few examples of Furman's record breaking stunts include running five miles on stilts in the fastest time, a record that had stood since 1892; walking 80 miles with a milk bottle balanced on his head; performing 9,628 sit-ups in an hour; and Furman's greatest challenge was performing forward rolls for the entire 12-mile length of Paul Revere's ride in Massachusetts. Pretty ridiculous eh??
What captivated my attention about Furman's story wasn't the fancy record breaking stunts he performs, rather it was his sincerity and honesty about why he does what he does. Firstly, Furman doesn't do it for the money. He receives no monetary compensation for performing these outrageous feats, nor does he want to. About 30 years ago Furman was introduced to Transcendental Meditation (see my post on TM) by an Indian guru named Sri Chinmoy. The name Ashrita was given to Furman by his guru, which translates to "protected by God" in Sanskrit. Furman truly believes he is protected by a Divine Spirit that sees him through his superhuman stunts. Part of the philosophy behind transcendental meditation is "enlightenment through extreme physical activity." Furman's first test as a disciple was a 24-hour bike race when he was a young man, which sounds utterly daunting and impossible! However, Furman tells us in his interview with Bryant Gumble that he employed his new-found meditation techniques like chanting and visualizations and before he knew it the race was over and he completed 405 miles and tied for 3rd Place! As an awkward high school student, Furman was bullied regularly, but as soon as he discovered the gem of TM, his life changed dramatically. Furman dropped out of Columbia University to pursue a new life under the new name bestowed upon him: Ashrita. Ashrita credits his guru for his phenomenal endurance and agility to this day and asserts, "if one can be in touch with one's inner spirit, anything is possible." If this isn’t yoga, then I don’t know what is.
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
To meditate is to focus your attention on one thing. Contrary to popular belief, meditation isn’t some cryptic and esoteric task-taking place under a Bodhi Tree out in the wilderness. Meditation can happen anywhere at any time. A meditation practice strengthens our capacity for focused attention. Meditation is a tool to achieve clarity of thought and relief from life’s frustrations and stresses. To experience the benefits of mantra meditation it’s important to practice patience and non-judgment during each meditation session because the human mind, referred to as the monkey mind will undoubtedly wander aimlessly through its vast forests of thoughts and emotional responses. How many times throughout your day do you become sidetracked or distracted from your original intentions? The ability to place and maintain your attention where you choose to is both empowering and liberating.
Mantra meditations are words or phrases that are chanted verbally or mentally. Usually a mantra is prescribed to a student by a guru or teacher. Mantra can also be self-prescribed. For example, by choosing to mediate on the word "love" or "compassion" the mediator invites more love or compassion into their field of awareness and therefore into their life. The word or phrase is the object of meditation giving the mind something to focus on. You will notice your mind pulling your attention outwards, away from the mantra. Sounds in the immediate environment, sensations in your body and of course thoughts will enter and occupy the mind; yet instead of entertaining these distractions, allow them to enter your stream of consciousness and then choose to recommit to the mantra. You will notice these distractions will exit your stream of consciousness as quickly as they entered. With a consistent meditation mantra practice the physical world of distraction begins to gradually fade away and the only thing the meditator construes as reality is the spoken or mental mantra. Ultimately, after a long mantra meditation the mantra itself begins to dissolve until there is nothing but serene and expansive consciousness. No thoughts, no words, no judgment, just space.
YOGI TIDBIT TO TRY:
This mantra was given to me by Julian Walker, a true guru.
Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit. Close your eyes. Watch the quality of your breathing for a few cycles of breath. Remember that the breath is four-part with the inhalation, the pause after the inhalation, the exhalation and the pause after the exhalation. Begin verbally or mentally reciting the following mantra:
MAY I BE WELL. MAY I BE HAPPY AND SAFE. MAY I BE HEALTHY AND STRONG. MAY I BE FREE FROM SUFFERING AND THAT WHICH CAUSES ME TO SUFFER. MAY I BE WELL.
Begin by reciting this mantra five times. Then build up gradually. Practice this mantra anytime, especially in times when you feel self-doubt and self-conscious.
Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Yesterday I decided to mix things up a bit. I took a hip-hop class. Don’t laugh! You heard me correctly! Ballerinas can groove too. Instead of trekking all the way across the city, dealing with the pre-carmageddon frenzy on the roads only to cram myself into a room with other sweaty pretentious dancers at a well-established Hollywood dance studio, which shall remain nameless, I decided to check out a new local studio. Moore Dancing Cardio Dance Studio in West Los Angeles offers a variety of classes throughout the day. Classes are basic enough for novices yet have just the right amount of groove and funk to challenge more seasoned dancers. Classes offered include hip-hop, funk, cardio dance, and more. Moore Dancing welcomes all levels of dance and all ages. Located on the second floor the studio gets a ton of natural light overlooking trendy San Vicente Blvd in west Los Angeles. The feng shui is perfect. Classes offered have uniquely funky names describing their individual sass. So if you live on the Westside of Los Angeles, be sure to grab your neon tights, sweatbands and legwarmers for Back to The Future with Matthew where dancers jam out to the funky beats of the 1980's!
Thursday, 14 July 2011
Yesterday in Kia Miller's class I had what I can only describe as a beautiful experience. Live musicians accompanied the practice and then lead an 11-minute chant following the physical practice. I am no stranger to mysterious waves of emotion coming over me during yoga class, but yesterday was particularly intense. I felt myself welling up as I made my way into savasana. My choppy inhales signaled a wave of emotion that I was unprepared for. The physical practice was slow, luxurious and therefore quite deep. I had time to explore each part of each asana and each part of my body as I glided through the asanas. No hurry, nowhere to go, nowhere to be but with myself. That is scary. I nearly welled up with emotion right now just typing that sentence. Savasna appears as an easy pose, but most yogis agree that it is actually the most difficult. Savasana, also known as corpse pose, forces one to surrender the physical body with total honesty to gravity like it never belong to you in the first place. The idea is, once the body is at ease, the mind enters into a state conscious relaxation. This is much more difficult than it sounds because minds, as we all know, need something to hold on to. Fear of the unknown makes us anxious and unwilling to let go of conscious thoughts. Many times, unresolved issues or feelings held by our subconscious will rise to the surface during savasana. This is a good thing; consider it like free therapy! It's frightening to be confronted with yourself. There is nowhere to go, nowhere to run or hide. All you can do is allow whatever sensations, experiences and emotions come up to rise to the surface so they can exit the vessel that houses them.
Monday, 11 July 2011