Finding our own expression in Yoga

Recently, I had trouble interpreting one of my student’s responses. “Jack” is the husband of a friend of mine. They had a private session with me at another studio a year ago, and that was that until I bumped into them a few months ago. We catch up. I find out that while she dropped out of Yoga, he had not, and has continued on. So I invited him to my Senior Men’s Yoga class.

men at gymJack checks out the class, enjoys it and signs up with a 15 card pass. This is great. He fits in well with the guys and this has been a hard class to establish. However, around this time I lose a couple of newer fellows for various health related reasons. Jack has had two hip replacements and he is still taking class from “Becky,” an experienced teacher I very much like and respect.

Well. This combination does nothing for my pervasive insecurity and leads me to wonder if Jack is getting anything out of my class. So I checked in with him briefly at the end of class and he indicated he was fine. Yet he must have sensed my angst, and gave the query more thought, because later that day he sent me an email. And that led to us chatting after class the following week. Continue reading

Everybody’s a Critic (of Yoga)

In the last month or so, I’ve run across three separate articles dressed up as criticism of western presentations of yoga.  The trouble is, they come across being more narcissistic and envious of the “culture” they are supposedly now boycotting, and end up sounding resentful of fame and success rather than offering true criticism.

So here, with a grain of salt, I’m criticizing the critics.

better bunsOne article focused on the sensationalistic, commenting on the launching of a Yoga porn site, and Yoga for Better Buns to make his point of capitalism infringing upon this spiritual practice.  But then this very same poster is blogging at the HuffingtonPost.com and he is also an author of two books on Mindfulness and Meditation, both with a handy link to the Amazon Store right after his article.  And, by the way, he’s written many other articles in such a style.  If you didn’t already know, bloggers at the Huffington Post don’t get paid for their articles.  They do it for exposure.  Can he be any more of a shill?

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Yoga and Basketball

I recently finished reading Tiger in a Lion’s Den, by former LSU men’s basketball coach Dale Brown. It’s kind of what you’d expect in reading a book by a coach. It certainly isn’t a literary masterpiece. But, I’m a hoops junkie, and I’ll read most books on basketball by successful coaches just to see what’s there.

Brown was an emotional leader, one who played by the rules and was an outspoken critic of the NCAA. I enjoyed his stories regarding coaching against basketball luminaries such as Bob Knight of Indiana and Joe B. Hall of Kentucky. The story I relate here had to do with UCLA coach John Wooden. Continue reading

Write It Down

Things happen for a reason. I’m more convinced of this than ever. A series of events align and it allows you to see from a different perspective. This happens whenever I venture north to Portland for a class with Chase Bossart. I’m there for a series on Asana Sequencing and a review of the Yoga Sutra, and a little nugget on meditation appears. Chase says, “If something comes up in the process of your meditation, write it down.” In other words, don’t stubbornly resist it.

I knew this. But why wasn’t I doing it?

At Kripalu, one of the concepts that was presented during our training was to “give permission.” Maybe I needed permission. So I sit down to my meditation the day after our weekend sessions, and I have no paper, no journal. So I write nothing down. My mind is addled, things come up, but I ignore them and press on.

I finish my meditation, and it was ok. But I realize I did not take advantage of that clarity. Thank the stars, Buddha, whomever… a process like this no longer drags out. The next day I have paper handy.

Wow. So much stuff is in my head.

There’s uncertainty in so many areas of my life right now.  But yet, little epiphanies arose out of meditation.  This time, I wrote them down. I have to say, though I seemed to stop many times, it did not affect my meditation. Time flew by and I was unburdened and more refreshed. And, beautifully so, I had a plan for one area of my life where I could bring some certainty. There was progress immediately.

I have had periods where I have meditated, each with different intentions. For some reason, I had meditated 45 days straight just prior to when the worst news of my life was revealed to me. I was amazingly stable. I meditated every day for a year. And more recently, with a workplace wellness challenge as an incentive, I meditated 31 days straight.  But, it dropped off again.

With all that is up in the air, I need my meditation to be regular.  This time, I will keep a journal nearby.

Men’s Yoga – April Update

Gentlemen,

I’ve got a brand new computer and it’s loaded with up to date programs. I’ve revamped the web site and am using a new email program. However, along with the ease of a new and fast computer, I’m confounded by a machine that does all sorts of things I don’t actually want it to do! It has been a fount of frustration. Plus, I’m spending way too much time online again.

So, I’m a Luddite, right? Technology is baaaad. No. I practice and teach Yoga. Continue reading

Enlighten Up!

Enlighten UpEnlighten Up!
A Skeptic’s Journey into the World of Yoga
Directed by: Kate Churchill, 2008

My friend Dudley recommended this movie, and I finally got around to watching it. Enlighten Up! is a documentary that takes Nick, a reluctant yet curious individual at a crossroads in life, and immerses him in yoga to see what happens.

The movie follows him as he seeks out many famous teachers, takes classes from them (sometimes to gain an audience) and interviews them. There are predictable scenes of Nick in uncomfortable poses, and clips from yoga proponents; some sounding wise, some appearing surprisingly grumpy, while others just seem a bit too far off in left field to be taken seriously. Continue reading

The Wisdom of Yoga

The Wisdom of YogaThe Wisdom of Yoga
A Seeker’s Guide to Extraordinary Living
by Stephen Cope, Bantam Books, Inc., 2007

Yoga is the practice of experience.  This is often lost on the western mind.  We see Yoga as a physical exercise and don’t understand or perhaps fear the depth of what experience beyond intellect can teach us.

The Yoga Sutras are incredibly distilled.  Much like the Taoist advice from the Tao Te Ching, the Sutras can seem maddeningly simplistic or even contrary.  In short, I’m not sure the Yoga Sutras would have made any sense to me had I not had the experiences I had in the studio. Continue reading

Jim Kallett and Bikram Yoga

Jkallett posterim Kallett – Lecture
Friday, January 4, 2013
Corvallis, Oregon

Jim Kallett was invited to town by my local studio to offer a posture clinic.  He also gave a lecture the evening before.  As a Bikram Yoga aficionado of 8 plus years, I was interested in what he had to say and looking forward to the Q&A.

The talk started out as I would have expected; a biographical review of Bikram Choudhury, his youth, his training and the history behind the sequence and bringing it to America.  As one who has read his books, I knew much of this and was a little impatient at the pace.  However, not everyone is as geeky about Yoga as I am, and lineage is a major element of Yoga.

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Men’s Yoga; starting back up this week.

Gentlemen,

It’s a new year and after two weeks off, we start back up with classes the second week of January.  Days and times remain the same, but I’ll repeat it here:  Men’s Yoga on Mondays, 5:30-6:30pm and Senior Men’s Yoga on Wednesdays, 2:30-3:30pm.

I read a story recently about a women who talked of taking up the piano again.  She enjoyed playing as teen, didn’t mind the practice.  But she kept putting it off.

In her 20s, she was wrapped up with her career.
In her 30s, it was marriage, work and family.
In her 40s, she bought a piano for her son to play.

But she always put it off for herself until one day, it caught up with her, and a little voice spoke up…

“When?”

She decided to “commit to 15 minutes a day and see what happens.”

What she discovered was that she ended up practicing for longer than that most days, often 45 minutes to an hour.  And, she said, she couldn’t really tell you what she had set aside in order to play the piano.

“I seem to get as much done as before.”

“There had always been time; I just hadn’t known it was there.”

See you in class!

André

Update 01/02/2014 :  Barbara Shelly, who wrote the original article about finding the time and taking up the piano again wrote a follow up column a year later; Life seems much richer when ‘later’ becomes now.

Men’s Yoga new location, adds senior’s class

Starting in January, my Yoga for Men classes will move to the Willamette Wellness Center / FOF at 6735 SW Country Club Drive, Corvallis, Oregon. It’s a very nice space.  They have blocks, but folks should bring their own mats, if possible.  And the price is quite reasonable (price updated, January 2013):

$9.00 – drop in         $7.00 – 15 class pass ($105)         $6.00 – 30 class pass ($180)

Beginning Men’s Yoga – This class introduces Men to Yoga and establishes familiar routines for the continuing student to build competency.  The class is active and can offer a work out to those who desire it, but it also includes a focus on alignment, breathing and relaxation. Mondays from 5:30-6:30pm

Beginning Senior Men’s Yoga – This is an accessible class that focuses on the set up of basic and attainable postures and breathing exercises.  We use a chair for balance and comfort and classes end with deep relaxation. Wednesdays from 2:30-3:30pm

Please note, while both classes are labeled “beginner” a main focus of these “men’s” yoga classes is to foster community among men.  So, any level is welcome.