Archive for July, 2013

“If you expect success in yoga to come at a small price tag:


I had to look all over for that David Garrigues quote today.

I am also reflecting back on this post on pain:


David took a lot of flack over it.

Question from student last night:

“So was that class the normal expectation as far as flexibility…..”

And my mental state on that is one, what did I teach that made her think I was ‘expecting’ something, and then also equally number two, I do this with pain, in my knees, but I am looking past the expectations I have and towards the healing. Of whatever heals. I can’t necessarily pick what will heal.

I think that is what David is addressing. As a teacher you have students who do NOT want to come out of their comfort zone. Students have reservations about practice that reflect in themselves, not the practice such as pain, injuries, feeling inadequate, wanting to push themselves….it goes on and on. In no way was he suggesting pain, or any reservation, should be diminished. Sometimes we all sound like a broken record, even to ourselves. (I am only doing four navasanas today I am tired)

I talk a lot about comfort zones, because I resist getting stuck in one. If you are just moving from comfort zone into comfort zone, you will never be enlightened. You can make a lot of changes and still wind up with the same story or comfort zone.

It is like being an addict, you are always an addict, you just move into a new addiction.

The only thing you can change is conditioned behavior, which has to be RECOGNIZED. I feel David was saying he recognized the conditioned behavior pattern.

My conditioning reflecting my reaction as being first the ego coming out concerning my teaching and second, defensive, well I work though it, being pain or my insecurities or whatever label I have at the present time. As a teacher my job is to look out for the student first and foremost.

When a student says something that startles or surprises me, I look at my reaction as reflecting my conditioning. Why was I reactionary to her comment and how can I grow as a teacher from it.

Often the student is the teacher.

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So apparently Richard the Third didn’t have a hump back, but quite a case of scoliosis.


Scoliosis can be easy to detect in some students with a trained teacher eagle eye.


It can also be more subtle. I look for it in simple forward bends. In the deep forward bends you can detect it through uneven levels of the back ribs on either side of the spine. In standing, it can manifest as uneven shoulders and pelvis.

In some students it is not so easy to see and some people may not be award of it! If twisting poses feel real different from one side to the next, that could indicate a mild scoliosis.

Yoga can help to some degree even out the unbalance in the intercostals and such. Breath is important. The lungs are already uneven, so mild to severe can compress into one lung more than the other.

Apparently Rick had painful treatments for it back then. Could this have been the reason for the invention of the wrack?


Um, give me some side stretching, PLEASE.

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That is what came into my head after lead yesterday. Which is pretty bad after Saturday off. The practice totally wiped me out, but then I hadn’t really slept well the past two nights. We also had a family gathering on Saturday night and got home late at 7:30.

I read a quote or something from some blogger or Facebooker that Sharath said about practice. Your life revolves around this practice and how you sleep and interact changes or has to change for you to give the practice the energy it takes.

I also read a David Garrigues blog on the same subject. Basically he had to give up on some other activities in order to give practice the devotion it takes to make it, well a practice.

So is it worth it in order to master fancy poses like Janu B:

Yup, that is the fancy pose I can finally do with a closed knee after several months. Not a fancy handstand on the beach or a deep dhanurasana:


I was able to close my knee joint.

So what are you willing to sacrifice for practice?

Some people think the practice should give them something back, a fuller richer life and more TIME or FUN. You know, your practice OWES you something. I didn’t give anything up by choice but certain things I spent time on before I just sort of MOVED ON FROM:

Parties and social gatherings (I pick and choose)
Reading material that I don’t deem worthy (Bestsellers, magazines)

I don’t regard this as sacrificing or suffering. A lot of my time I have replaced with worthier pursuits:

Reading scripture or research
Pranayama practice
Quiet time

Moon day, by the way is still a week away. So that means if I am feeling ready for additional rest now, I have to find new ways to NOURISH practice such as:

More rest
Good nutrition
Pace out the normal householder (job) stress

Today I think I will make this as a special treat:

Two cocktail glasses of milkshake

3/4 cup bananas, frozen and sliced
2 cup almond milk (or other veggie milk)
A handful of Strawberries
2 tbsp Lucuma powder (a sweet south american superfood, optional)
3 tbsp Raisins
4 tbsl Raw cacao
a pinch of pure vanilla

1. Prepare all ingredients, put in a blender and blend away.
2. Add more cacao/sweetener if you wish.

Lucuma? Anyone?

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I am writing my first post from my brand new IMAC 27 inch desktop. I won’t promise better content or not to incite disagreement, but I am enjoying the experience.

I am also enjoying watching the eagle nests on the big spring. Too bad most of the baldies have fledged, but next month my Australian sea eaglets hatch and around Christmas I look forward to Ozzie and Harriet raising another brood at Southwest Florida.

Yesterday I went for another session at SOAR INC in Illinois for raptor care and handling. I hope to volunteer locally after these sessions. Bernie and George are a gas and they do good work. With vision, compassion, and without expecting anything back from what they give. Their best interests are always for the raptors they care for.

Raptor handling is an amazing experience. Yesterday I held two red tail, Esmerelda and Candy, and really have an appreciation for the species. I see them all the time where I live and now am learning about other local raptors such as owls and peregrines. We do not have baldies in this area of the state I live in. I have to go visit them or rely on the nest cams.

I hope I can help them out some day through volunteer work.

I feel this work is sort of my dharma and karmic path, besides teaching and practicing yoga.

Most of what people who practice Patanjali yoga focus on is the eight limbs and in the West almost predominantly number 3. Most people don’t go past 3 and think that is yoga practice.

Well, sorry it is not, even the courts in California agree with this. If the focus is all on poses and Western calisthenics, then it isn’t yoga. Breathing in a vinyasa class is also not pranayama.

Pranayama is a stand alone practice, meant to join the practice of asana and meditation in that order. Not just one, but all three together in that sequence, asana-pranayama-meditation. Yogic meditation is the correct yogic practice, with focus on the chakras, sushumna nadi and the movement of kundalini.

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika states that pranayama, on it’s own, can eliminate karma.

There are three types of Karma:

Sanchita karma is where karma from past actions that are not manifest yet are stored.

Parabdha karma is past karma that is manifesting now.

Kriyamana karma is what we are creating now.

In my practice this morning I started honestly contemplating what I am creating now. I already am aware of past karmas I created that are either manifesting or festering. In order to really create awareness of the right now actions, one has to be truthful. The practice of Satya a necessity. Most of us who study Patanjali often overlook the true blocks, which are the kleshas. I have blogged on the kleshas, but the obstacles to yoga can truely stand in the way of any potential achievement in the way of clearing karmas, even if you have attained a true 45 second kumbhaka.

Aversion and attachment are the opposites we fight continually. This should be totally reflected to us even in the early practices of asana. Am I too attached to the mat. Do I spend a lot of practice hoping a pose doesn’t come up today.

Is practice like that?

For me it definitely is. But I know I am on the right track when I approach the mat daily with equal parts dread and elation. The question is when does the practice reach the state of equanimity that will direct me to the right path.

The answer is of course in moment to moment. In the various stages of practice, often the moments of true sattva arise. Yoga is the practice of stringing those moments together with one thread.

Soon I will be doing another Pranayama workshop so will keep you informed of the dates if you are interested.

I will post some hawk pictures tomorrow.

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The past month has been busy due to the teacher training intensive at Inner Fire Yoga, where I direct the program. I spent a lot of the month with 12 delightful people who became really close as a group and who are all excited about being teachers. They are all ready.



Now I am back to my own practice. My practice does suffer a lot during that month, but this year I was able to practice four times a week. The last week I actually practiced five times, so not too bad.

Also I have read a lot of good blogs lately with topics I am interested in blogging about. One is this:


Although I am back to practicing Primary series, I often beat myself up about it. Like why am I starting this now, at age 56. Really coming back to this practice is like starting over and I relate to how this person feels, like I am just fumbling through it.

I certainly can’t point to any poses in the Primary series I have finally mastered. I make small tiny baby steps. Recently I got down Janu B after months of practice. Even though the pose is not fancy nor difficult for most people, here is the thing.

I have had bad knees for years due to meniscus tears. Completing closing the knee joint is huge for me. When I first injured my right one ten years ago I was told to have surgery and they wanted to take it all out. I refused. Then I read in Lino Miele’s book that he had the same knee condition coming to Ashtanga and Guruji told him ‘no surgery’. He said he had pain for the first three years of practice in his knees. Imagine you just started yoga with a condition like this and the teacher says don’t have the surgery.

And everyone tells you you are crazy. Plus you are living through pain. Then the pain goes away. Is this going to happen all the time? NO. (Different topic for next blog post.)

But there is a healing going on in me that I need, physical and otherwise and all of a sudden I am beginning, just beginning I think, to really understand vinyasa. Baby steps.

Then this morning in a class I taught a few poses from Intermediate series in a class and I was able to do the hip rotations and backbends much better than a year ago, when I was trying to push my way through hard poses. Just look at some pictures from old blog posts. It is almost embarrassing, so when I read this blog I get it that I was teaching and practicing in a way that made no sense. Bringing out fancy poses that just a few students, very few, can do and not preparing for them is just silly, yet somehow through working through a series, stumbling and all, makes sense to me now.

Coming to the practice every day takes some mental battling with myself. I drag my feet to it, I give myself allowance to take it easy because after all I am tired, and I think of excuses to back off.

But once I start, it doesn’t stop. It keeps going and going and once in a while something works better or the breath moves me into a place I hadn’t reached before.

And it is just starting to make some sense.

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256 Year Old Chinese Herbalist Li Ching-Yuen, Holistic Medicine, and 15 Character Traits That Cause Diseases.

This was one of the best things I have read in a long time. Here is some more stuff. I am busy now with teacher trainees but will be in full blog force after next week. I have a lot to say!

Here is a great Kino quote from Hally Marlino’s article on Yoganonymous:


“Yoga is not yummy. Those people who want you to believe it is- I want to smack them. Expecting yoga to be yummy is delusional. Ashtanga is not funyasa. ” ~Kino MacGregor

I have a year of material right there to write on.

A great post with comments from Grimmly:


Like please stop with the yoga is gymnastics and that is where Krishnamacharya got asana from. Please stop. More on this later.

Question, why do people have to defend good practice and why do people get defensive about good practice.

Or bad.

Last, I learned yesterday at Starbucks that not everyone hates getting up for their job every day. Got smacked down by the coffee lady. She said to me, you don’t look excited to be going to work today. Me, shocked. You mean people are happy at the SB window at 6:00 am Monday morning?

Also compassion for others is a future topic.

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