It's Been a Year

Scott & Charity

It's been a year . . .

Hey everyone. Today is the one-year anniversary of my sister Charity's death. She died one year ago today,  unexpectedly, in a motorcycle accident. Above is a picture of us in Central Park, on our way to my yoga retreat in Spain last year. It was taken about two months before she died. Who knew that a year later I'd be living in NYC and visiting Central Park regularly?

My heart is heavy and my throat is thick today thinking of her. But mostly I'm grateful for the awareness that the experience of her death has given me, the awareness of life's beauty and fragility.

It's easy to get rubbed wrong by the dense throngs of people in NYC, out in mass, surging to get to work. Often during the morning commute, people's coffee hasn't kicked in and many people left their goodwill towards others at home.

But I've been doing an experiment, one which has everything to do with remembering Charity. Whenever I find myself getting a little frustrated about all the people in the subway or miffed at some people's rudeness, I start to go out of my way to look at people in the face, the big tough agro dude, Rude Guy, the strung out homeless person, and the struggling single mom, and imagine each person as a brand new baby, held in the arms of their mother, and I remember that the strung out homeless person was once the most important thing in the Universe to that mama. I remember that every single person has needs, fears, loves, and hopes. I remember that every single person, sometime or other, will face death. And I remember that every single person has the capacity to reach their highest self. This changes my attitude from bugged to love.

Charity's death reminds me that love matters most. The legacy that Charity left behind was her unparalleled generosity, unyielding loyalty, and unabashed love for those around her.

May we see everyone we encounter, both the grouchy and the grateful, through the lens of love and light. And because we never know when our number will come up, go out and live the life you've always wanted to live. Let everything you do be driven by love and no matter what happens, you will have no regrets.

Hey, I love you. You're an incredible person.

Scott


"The greatest thing you'll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return."

~Nature Boy written by eden ahbez and sung by Nat King Cole

False Gatekeepers

False Gate Keepers

Fearsome statues often stand as sentinels at the gates of Buddhist temples. They are placed there keep out the timid and those unsure of whether or not they up to the task of fulfilling their dharma, their purpose, and dreams. But ultimately, these menacing statues are false gatekeepers, for those who are brave enough to step up to them realize that, while terrific, these statues are merely stone and one must simply walk past them into the sacred space.

What are the false gatekeepers that keep you back from achieving your purpose and dreams? Is it learning to build your website to launch your business idea? Is it getting comfortable enough with your craft to put yourself out there and drum up opportunities for yourself? Is it the fear that people won’t like what you’re offering?

When I mentor other yoga teachers about how to make a living doing what they love to do, together we look at their false gatekeepers that prevent them from fulfilling their purpose and dreams. We face their stony gaze and walk on by. Yes, there’s work involved but it’s often much easier than you might think. My job is to walk right next to you, encouraging you the entire way, and empowering you with specific, actionable steps that yield quick and profound results.

What are the false gatekeepers keeping you from fulfilling your dreams of becoming an extraordinary yoga teacher and making a living doing what you love? I’d love to help you start taking those brave steps past those today.

The world needs what you have to offer. As you learn to share your talents and passions with the world, you’ll find that the world will in turn feed you.

What’s holding you back? Give me a call or email me today and let’s talk about we can start to move past some of those false gatekeepers and what a yoga mentor program would look like for you 801-891-8365. scott@scottmooreyoga.com

Three Chords And The Truth

I was at the Newseum in D. C. last week, the museum dedicated to journalism and the history of the first amendment. Whether or not journalism always achieves it, its objective is to report the unbiased truth. The principle of Satya means truth, which is one of the core pathways to arriving at yoga’s goal of oneness with all things. I felt as if walking around the Newseum was in some ways an homage to Satya and a practice in truth.

The Newseum displays brave and honest journalism. I saw through a poignant gallery of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs how telling the truth can be both beautiful and bellicose.

I was interested to see actual copies of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and to learn about America’s early struggle for freedom of speech. But the special exhibit called Louder Than Words: Rock Power Politics, not surprisingly, the display with all the electric guitars, was the one that caught my ear.

Louder Than Words featured a few short documentaries including one about the nation’s political gasp after Jimi Hendrix, a symbol of hippie anti-establishmentism, spontaneously rocked out with The Star-Spangled Banner at Woodstock. Also celebrated in this exhibit was the hallowed and hand-written lyric sheet for Bob Dylan’s “The Times, They Are A Changin' ,” a commentary on the assassination of JFK. But my heart skipped a beat when I came around a corner and perched in front of me was a glass case holding the sacred relic of a beat-to-hell guitar belonging to none other than Joe Strummer from The Clash.

If you aren’t familiar with The Clash, then on behalf of all humans: Welcome to the planet Earth. We're happy you’ve come. The Clash was an important band from England in the late 70s. They were midwives for the birth of Punk, a “stick-it-to-the-man” movement born of the frustrations of a generation. Punk gave voice to a host of people who were angry at what they felt was a conservative, bleak, and expressionless era leading them hopelessly forward toward a vacuous future. Punk protested social norms, the economy, art and style, and of course, politics. They were not afraid to sing, and often scream, their truth.

Check out these environmentally proleptic lyrics from “London Calling,” the title track of The Clash’s 1979 album:

"The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growin' thin
Engines stop running, but I have no fear
'Cause London is drowning, and I, I live by the river."

Yoga has broad definitions and “a yoga” can be defined as an action or response to pure observation. Therefore, Punk was “a yoga” of Satya in response to the politics of the day.

Yes, there must be a distinction drawn between spewing opinions into a microphone, and striving for an objective truth. But isn’t that the distilled practice of yoga, to ultimately discern between observation and assessment about any information, be that the tight hamstrings or a tight-ass politician?

The Clash are not the only ones to have spout off into a microphone. Today, there are many television and talk radio rockstars like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, and others, who, just like The Clash, have their spotlight and their audience and wield their right to say whatever they want. While I may not agree with much of what some of these people say, because I believe Satya is a pathway to Oneness, a foundational pillar to yoga, I’ll defend their right to say it, even if they manage to offend the entire world in a mere 140 characters.

Wandering through the Newseum, I couldn’t help but become agitated as I thought about the emerging “war against the media,” waged by Trump, Poland, China, and others. It worries me because I believe such an attack on the media threatens the institution of journalism and so directly threatens what I feel is the sacred notion of freedom of speech. By controlling the media, ultimately Satya gets hijacked.

We stood in front of Joe Strummer’s guitar, me reading the plaque and two-year-old Elio shouting, “Guitar! Play it!” I leaned close to Elio and said, “Remember that guitar, Elio, it changed the world.”

Little did I know what an impression this display of “stick it to the man,” noise, and freedom of speech had made on little Elio. The next day at the hushed halls of the National Gallery of Art, Elio decided to practice some of his own freedom of speech.

While we were strolling this cavernous edifice of art, Elio became drunk with glee over the sound of his own tiny screams echoing off of the gallery’s walls. Each time I asked him to please use his “inside voice,” he happily screamed louder (at The Man, read: me, I had become The Man).

Once, as we were taking in the art, walking in a large crowd of tourists, we passed a next-to life size nude statue and Elio squealed with delight and screamed, “BUM BUM!” Feeling quite self-conscious about the raucous he was making, I told Elio gently but firmly that he needed to lower his voice or we were going to have to leave the museum, a textbook The Man mandate, or The Man-date. Elio responded to my reproach by hushing just long enough for me to begin pushing the stroller again. Then, with perfect timing, his piercing, tiny voice burst out even louder with, “Papa tooted!” This was followed by his menacing peal of laughter.

My face blushed more crimson than Childe Hassam’s poppies and in an attempt to recover some dignity, I retorted to Elio, but decidedly loud enough for others nearby to hear, “Ha ha. No I didn’t,” but my worlds fell flat upon the stony faces of both the tourists and statues alike. So childish, so Punk. I considered attempting to teach my two-year-old about the concept of libel but then thought better of it and simply pushed the stroller to another wing of the museum, Elio chuckling the entire way. This was Elio’s foray into the freedom of speech and stick it to the man and Punk in the face of “established culture.” And while I might appreciate it if he could say it more subtly, I must respect his right to say it.

So, whether it’s a little voice piped from a stroller or an ear-splitting voice screaming above an electric guitar, whether it’s cynical opinions about politics or capturing a split second through the lens of a camera, I believe in your right to speak your truth. I believe this moves us toward Satya and ultimately toward Oneness. 

I invite us all to practice pure observation in the world and strive practicing the yoga of discerning the truth in what we see and hear. As you practice discerning truth, let’s cheer for the freedom of speech. And because of this freedom, choose whichever source you like for your information, but for me, I choose to listen to both a particular tiny voice and The Clash.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

~ Bob Dylan

Guitar Jimi Hendrix Played at Woodstock

Guitar Jimi Hendrix Played at Woodstock

Lyrics for The Times They Are A Changin'

Lyrics for The Times They Are A Changin'

Joe Strummer's Guitar

Joe Strummer's Guitar

The Clash

The Clash

Elio Sticks it To The Man

Elio Sticks it To The Man


San Francisco Yoga Tour Sept. 21-24 2017

Yoga and Writing Retreat Aug. 27-20 2017. 1 Spot Left

I Know The Truth

Photo by Seneca Moore

Photo by Seneca Moore

Photo by Alex Adams

Photo by Alex Adams

There was a derelict shed behind the forgotten house where my grandfather kept his old tractor. He used the tractor for plowing his acre size garden, his pride and joy, his reason for living and the only thing left of his family’s inheritance. At 5 years old, I remember stepping into the old shed, my eyes adjusting to the dark as I breathed shallowly the imposing scent of gasoline and dirt which seemed to me the very smell of time itself. I remember the old timbers holding that place together, the collection of old Utah license plates hanging on the far wall, a chopping stump with an axe embedded permanently within, like the sword in the stone for a kid. Along the far eastern wall was a sloping pile of silky black coal, chunks the size of misshapen grapefruits, coal that had been forgotten several decades ago when my great-grandparents died and with them died the need for fueling their coal burning furnace and oven. Mostly, I remember sitting on top of that tractor in its wide seat, looking over to see the enormous rear tires dwarfing the small front ones. I remember trying to reach the clutch gas and pedal with my short legs and handling the stick. The top of the gear shifter was decorated with a black skull. Now, the memory of it tells me that we are all dust. “Go ahead,” it seemed to say. “Plant, sow, till. But one day you too will be planted in this earth and that is the simple hard truth, as sure as there is earth to till.”

And knowing this, like everyone else, I try to make meaning of the relatively small time I enjoy walking on top of this earth instead of being buried beneath it. The poet Marina Tsvetayeva speaks to this perfectly when she says in her poem:

Writing + Yoga + Nature Retreat with Nan Seymour August 17-20 with special guest Anders Carlson-Wee Stay to watch the eclipse. only 4 spots left.

I know the truth – give up all other truths!

No need for people anywhere on earth to struggle.

Look – it is evening, look, it is nearly night:

what do you speak of, poets, lovers, generals?

The wind is level now, the earth is wet with dew,

the storm of stars in the sky will turn to quiet.

And soon all of us will sleep under the earth, we

who never let each other sleep above it.

When I read the first line “I know the truth – give up all other truths!” my mind snaps to attention. What monumental truth has she discovered and needs to tell me? To me, she’s asking the human race to stop struggling and look at the beauty of the world, the night, and of course the oncoming dusk of our own lives. She says, take a look at the world around us and see how we are all part of the big picture. Written in a time in Soviet history when poets were persecuted and killed, Maria Tsvetayeva makes a beautiful inclusion of the generals, the very people who sought to eliminate poets, “what do you speak of, poets, lovers, generals?” and by so doing, speaks to the bigger truth, even beyond the threat of her own death, that we are all people, subject to the same fate, “And soon all of us will sleep under the earth . . . . “ By pointing to the fact that, “all of us will sleep under the earth, we/ who never let each other sleep above it”, she uses her voice as a poet, an oracle, to illuminate the futility of struggling with each other when we will all eventually experience the same fate.

This is not a message of doom and gloom. It’s a wake-up call to practice being in the here and now and to look beyond dogma and idealism and search for the divine humanity everyone including “lovers, poets, generals.” I’m sure all of us fit into one if not all three of those categories. What does it mean to be human and how do we truly appreciate another day in the sun?

From Sun salutations to corpse pose, in yoga we get to practice being human. We practice the vicissitudes of living, the ups and downs, the tension release, the struggles and joys. Perhaps mostly we practice paying attention before the sun has set and it is too late. And by practicing, my hope is that we find something within us, something deep down that we can call real, something that we find to be fundamentally beautiful and good. Finding this within, even to a small degree, may we look around and find the same quality in everything else, particularly those people around us, family, loved ones, strangers. May we, through practicing yoga and therefore better understanding ourselves, see the beauty, majesty and miracle of everything. Perhaps this is what it means to truly see.

Perched on the 21st Floor

Brooklyn Skyline
Dream and Write Retreat August 17-20 2017 with special guest, poet Anders Carlson-Wee. 4 spots left.

Dream and Write Retreat August 17-20 2017 with special guest, poet Anders Carlson-Wee. 4 spots left.

I’m writing perched at the kitchen counter in my bare 21st-floor high-rise apartment in downtown Brooklyn. The container containing all of our stuff, at lease everything we couldn’t fit into a few suitcases, has been shipped and sitting in storage and is scheduled to arrive for unloading literally any minute.

On our first night in New York, Seneca, Elio and I decided to take the A train down from our temporary housing in Harlem, to Brooklyn as an experiment to either confirm or deny our suspicions that Brooklyn wasn’t the place for us. That night was also our 3-year wedding anniversary. We stumbled upon an understated Mediterranean restaurant called Mariam and swooned over eggplant, cauliflower, and cucumber salad—all paired perfectly with two glasses of good, dry Prosecco.

As we left the Mariam, we strolled up Brooklyn’s 5th avenue and chanced to bump into a kind woman, Sarah, who was locking up the doors of a yoga studio called Area, whose window-front signs boasted the grand opening of their new saunas. We began to chat with Sarah and Seneca mentioned that I teach yoga and am looking for classes to pick up. We exchanged numbers and before I knew it, I was scheduled to teach several yoga classes at Area Yoga. And though I didn’t know it at the time, I’d lined up a teaching gig starting quite literally from the day I arrived in NYC.

Hunting for an apartment in NYC is a blood sport where the hunters are the ones who are killed in the process. Seneca had made a dedicated apartment-hunting trip to NYC weeks earlier only to come home apartmentless, exhausted, and discouraged (all on a broken foot, mind you).

After that first night in NYC, Seneca flew to London for a training. I was solo with Elio for the next 8 days. I didn’t think looking for an apartment with a very busy toddler in tow would be very fruitful but decided that I’d try my best. I found a few promising places online, made some appointments, packed up the boy and made another trip down to Brooklyn.

I spent the next morning looking at several apartments and ultimately decided to rent the first apartment I saw. It’s tiny, devilishly expensive, and modern, and sits on the 21st floor of a high-rise building in downtown Brooklyn. It has great amenities like a roof-top pool and terrace that overlook the Brooklyn bridge and across the water to the inimitable Manhattan skyline. Looking at the apartment’s specs, I worried because the container that we’d stacked full of all of our belongings would equate the square footage of our new apartment. I thought we’d let go of a lot of stuff to move and it looks like we will need to lighten the load even more.

Elio, my twin (evil, cuz everyone needs and evil twin), and I celebrated our 2nd and 41st birthdays respectively with the perfect picnics in Central park. There was climbing on rocks, Italian sandwiches, and cake.

After 8 days, Sen returned from her trip to London and I started teaching yoga at Area Yoga. The studio and classes are small but the students and staff have been very welcoming. This friendliness I have received by the Brooklynites has truly characterized my experience with people here in NYC. The stereotype is that New Yorkers are all business and overly-agro, crusty east-coasters. I’m sure there are crusty people everywhere but from people helping me wield the stroller on the subway, to natives asking if they can help me find my way, cued into my lostness as I’m frantically looking at Google Maps on my phone, to friendly yoga students, so far, I’ve experienced the people of New Yorkers as very helpful and friendly. I have to admit that I’m looking around every corner to see if I and spy any of my favorite celebrities who I’m sure live in my same building.

I was a little nervous starting to teach yoga in a new town to a new crowd in a new place with a billion other yoga teachers where essentially I am an unknown entity. So far, people have given me quite positive reviews, for which I’m very grateful. People have loved the clarinet (always a crowd pleaser). One student said, “You’re so different than the regular New York teacher who take themselves so seriously. You are happy, funny, and vulnerable and your classes very informative, fun, and challenging.”

A bit of advice I received from all of my Salt Lake City friends was not to adapt to NYC but bring who I am to NYC. I really took that to heart and am working very hard to stay true to my own teaching style and sensibilities, even if that makes me come across as some overly affectionate and enthusiastic country bumpkin.

Yesterday I went to a reeehe-he-he-eeeeally nice studio in Manhattan called Pure Yoga. This studio was elegant yet earthy and had to have cost millions to build. Enough people had suggested I visit this place prior to moving that it was among my first on my list of studios to visit.

The teacher, Miles, is also friends with Dallas Graham who connected us (connections are the BEST! thanks Dallas). After class, Miles told me the story of visiting SLC and attending one of my yoga class where I had played the clarinet. Miles admitted to opening eyes in order to see if I was actually playing the clarinet. Miles invited me to play clarinet while Miles and Miles’s partner played harmonium and chanted at the end of class. Miles promised to make introductions to the person in charge of hiring new teachers, for which I’m very grateful. I’d really love to teach at Pure Yoga.

Miles’s class was exceptional with its refined but spare verbal cues, non-dogmatic flavor of spirit-in-practice, and a clear permission for self-acceptance, not to mention the fun and challenging poses Miles had us do. During class, I became suddenly thrilled about all the formidable yoga teachers here in NYC. Even though I’m new in town, already I’ve begun to formulate what we are going to do for the NYC Yoga Tour. Mark your calendars for April 19-22 2018 for the NYC Yoga Tour.

All in all, things are going better than I could have imagined. So far, I LOVE New York. It’s challenging coming from a packed schedule to one where I’m only teaching a few times a week. I’m hanging with Elio a lot and I suppose that I really ought to cherish this time with him. There will be plenty of career building time.

Much love to all of you.

Scott

 

3 Tools That Will Immediately Improve Your Yoga Teaching

Photo by David Newkirk

Photo by David Newkirk

The world needs good yoga teachers. I’ve been teaching yoga as a career for over 16 years and have logged more than 20,000 teaching hours. I will forever be a student both of yoga and the practice of teaching yoga and I suppose that I’ll always be learning how to be more effective.

Yet, through the trial and error of my own teaching, teaching dozens of teacher training programs, and by mentoring many other yoga teachers, I’ve learned volumes about what makes the difference between a so-so or less effective teacher and what makes a great teacher.

Here are three easy tools that I’ve seen help several teachers raise their effectiveness from so-so, to excellent. Try them on and see if they won’t immediately improve your teaching by helping your students respond to you better.

#1 Be Authentic

Great teachers don’t try to teach like their teachers or yoga idols, they integrate what they’ve learned and then teach from their own hearts. Being authentic in your teaching speaks to the yoga principle of Satya or Truth. If you are truthful in your teaching, your best friends and family will still recognize you while you’re teaching yoga. Know who you are and teach as that person.

And for Ganesh’s sake, ditch the overly-calm “Yoga Teacher” persona . . .  (I pause to retch). And if that’s the real way you talk, then you probably have a lucrative career recording the “Thank you for holding” message for banks. But if you’re not being you, your students will see through it before your first OM.

Authenticity wins over experience every time. Try starting class with what’s real for you in the moment. “Ok! I’m kinda new at this so I’m nervous as hell but I’m excited to be here so I’ll try to stay grounded in my body during class as I’m inviting you to do likewise.” Boom! If I was a student in a class and my teacher started out with that kind of honesty, they would instantly have my buy-in, despite their lack of experience.

#2 Look people in the face

Teaching yoga is a special opportunity to connect to people and connect them to themselves. Perhaps the most simple and direct way to connect to people is to look them in the face. As a yoga teacher, think of yourself as a conductor leading an orchestra which is celebrating breath and movement. Imagine an orchestra conductor, trying to unite the 100+ individual members of the orchestra into one collective voice but who couldn’t look the orchestra members in the face, or who swung their baton only toward the floor or the wall, or stood behind the musicians and directed only to people’s back. It just wouldn’t work.

It’s important for the teacher to get off the mat and own the space of the room—it’s part of the complex process of creating and managing the energy of the container. And as you move around the room, your students will both hear and feel your words more powerfully if you speak to their faces, even if they aren’t looking at you. Connection is an important reason for teaching yoga and looking people in the face makes that connection happen instantly.

#3 Speak to What People are Doing Well

Too often, teachers walk around like “Pose Police,” eager to write up asana infractions. Sure, teachers must make suggestions and corrections, but it’s more powerful and easier to connect to your students if you notice what’s happening well. One of your roles as a teacher is to witness. If you’re only witnessing the things that could be improved, it’s like a relationship partner who only mentions the things that bother them. No thanks!

Try using phrases like, “I notice how well everybody is breathing in class, that’s so important.” or “I can tell how present everybody is. Wow!” or “Great job with relaxing your neck in down dog.” For the few people who maybe could use a correction, they will likely take the cue from what you appreciate about the pose rather than only spouting off things to fix. People will leave class feeling like they are making progress in their practice and like you’re a teacher who sees them. You’ll earn their trust and their hearts.

Teaching yoga is a practice just like doing yoga. Try employing these few simple tools and notice how much more engaged you are as a teacher and how much more your students respond to you.

Of course this is just the beginning. If you are interested in improving your teaching with a one-on-one mentor program where we learn a full tool box of tools that will help leverage your personal gifts to become an outstanding and effective teacher, please check out my Yoga Mentor Program.

 

 

Tears, Beers, and Tricked-out Hearses

Tears and Beers

Friends,

 Let's just all sit down for 5 minutes and take a breath . . . keep breathing . . . one more deep breath.

Okay, that's a bit better. Whew, what a hurricane getting out of town what with packing all of our stuff, catching a fairly early flight, landing, filling a taxi with a mountain of luggage, and arriving at our temporary lodging as we are looking for a place! It's been undeniably crazy getting out of town but we are now cozied up in a sweet little Air B&B in Sugar Hill part of Harlem, and wow, what a great little neighborhood! But I gotta tell you, it feels weird to think of NYC as my new home. I'm sure it will take some time.

Seriously, leaving town was a little like attending our own funeral--quite literally. So many wonderful people, family, and friends have shown up in a big way to offer thank yous, well wishes, tears, and I love yous.

Last week, when we pulled up to my mom's house for a family goodbye, we were surprised to see almost the entire family, including my cuz and his family representin' with the Spooxmobile. Shane is a tough looking guy with the softest heart in the universe. He runs a fabulous store called Spoox Boutique that sells Halloween stuff 365 days a year and he and his wife both drive tricked-out hearses, complete with Bluetooth stereos and a great sound systems, A/C, and the smoothest suspension this side of the great beyond.

I learned something about Shane just this past week. Each year Shane holds a spooky car event with spooky tents and the like and all the proceeds (plus some from his own pocket) goes to buy headstones for children. He can't even talk about it without tearing up. Yes, as unorthodox as it is loving.

My mom has been watching Elio every Wednesday for the past two years. She's an amazing grandma and while she has been so supportive about us leaving to peruse our dreams, she's also broken-hearted to see us leave, especially little Elio, her partner-in-crime at the zoo and many other haunts around town. Seneca's mom who has very limited energy has graciously volunteered to watch Elio a few times a week and they have a wonderful bond. Like my mom, she's really sad to see us go but know it's for the best. We couldn't ask for better mom's. My dad and stepmom, Sen's aunt Andrea (big thanks to you), Nan, and Kim, have all been wonderful Aunties to little Elio and we are all going to miss that beautiful connection.

I also said goodbye to several of my closest friends. We shared tears and beers (the name of new-wave revival/country band) as we said our goodbyes. I know I'll be back but we all know that distance changes things.

So many people approached me and gave me tender hugs and told me what a difference I had made in their lives. Several people told me that I was their very first yoga teacher ever. Wow, what a thrill.

Seneca and I were so touched by everyone who came to the sendoff event hosted by Megan Peters. I have a metric ton of cards and notes I'm holding on to. So many people told me how I had personally made a difference in their lives. Each one of these stories touched my heart deeply.

You all have touched me deeply and I miss you already.  Salt Lake City, you have taught me how to teach yoga by showing up for me in every way. No matter where I go in this world, SLC you'll always be my #1.

So please stay connected with me. I'll let you know when I'm coming back into town.

Consider joining me for my Yoga and Writing retreat in August and my San Francisco Yoga Tour in September. I'll let you know when I put together the NYC Yoga Tour and we will tear this town up!

Love,

Scott

Stop Feeling Guilty for Not Going to Yoga

Stop Feeling guilty for not going to yoga

As a yoga teacher, several people have mentioned to me that sometimes if they see me in public, they feel guilty and shameful and will try to avoid me so that they don’t have to explain to me why they haven’t been coming to yoga.

Do you ever feel guilty for not going to yoga?

Stop feeling guilty for not going to yoga. Guilt and shame are the antithesis to yoga. Yoga is a practice that helps us understand ourselves as a Being, a divine member of the oneness of all things and valuable simply because we are. Guilt and shame are the inevitable toxins of any belief that equates your worth based on actions rather than your Being. Therefore, yoga reminds us that we are human beings, not human “doings.”

Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, world-renowned psychologist, author, and peace maker, teaches in his book Nonviolent Communication that guilt and shame are the most internally violent emotions we possess. He argues that we cannot practice non-violence toward others until we first practice it within ourselves.

Because guilt and shame are rooted in the misidentification of Self as a “doing”, and the final expression of yoga is Samadhi, the experience of Self as Being itself, it’s clear to see how guilt and shame are non-starters for a yoga practice. Perhaps this is why Ahimsa, or non-harming, is the very first step on the yoga path in the Yoga Sutras. Practicing internal non-violence by eradicating guilt and shame is the first step that destroys the false concept of Self as a “doing” and begins your path of illuminating Self as a Being.

Isn’t it incredible how we might climb mountains not to potentially harm another person but will so readily beat up on ourselves with negative self-talk?

I invite you to make self-love a part of your spiritual practice and build yourself up twice as much as you would another person. When you start to do this regularly, you’ll notice how much more bright and beautiful the world seems. You’ll notice how much easier it is to be kinder to the world around you. Magically, it will feel as if the entire world became kinder, less judgmental, and more compassionate. That’s because it did. And it did so in the part of the world that is closest to you, your own heart.

Dream and Write Retreat: Your Place in the Circle with Nan Seymour--a Writing, Yoga, and Nature Retreat at Harriman State Park, Idaho. August 17-20 2017

Because guilt and shame are anathema to our yoga practice, as long as you feel guilt for not going to yoga, you won’t go. Instead, try this on this self-talk, “I really love yoga because I enjoy how I feel when I do it. I’m committed to loving myself and one way I can show my self-love is to treat myself to a yoga class this week. And if circumstances don’t allow, that’s fine. I’m a beautiful Being, nonetheless. I’ll go as often as I can.” No guilt. All love.

Also, remember that practicing yoga doesn’t have to mean committing to a 90-minute yoga class. You might choose to do your own 10-minute practice of your favorite yoga poses, some breathing practices, and/or a simple meditation. And whenever you finish a yoga practice, class or personal practice, acknowledge to yourself that you did something to take care of YOU.

As you practice loving yourself, freeing yourself of any guilt or shame, you’ll find yourself evolving along your yoga path toward Samadhi, Being one with all things.  

I heard master yoga teacher Rusty Wells say in a class once, “If I were really a good teacher, class would only last 10 seconds because I would just remind you that you are good just the way you are and because you are.”

All of our doing is simply a way of practicing Being so ditch the guilt about not coming to yoga. You’re a beautiful Being just the way you are. 

Twist of Fate

Last Saturday, we had a massive yard sale where we experienced a twist of fate, both literally and figuratively.  Just as we were setting up my love, Seneca, slipped off the porch, twisted her ankle, and broke her foot! Despite some initial pain, she's going to be fine--a week on crutches, a month in a very stylish boot (yes, that woman can make even that look sexy), and then 2 weeks or so with a brace. We are glad that it wasn't a worse break but it has certainly slowed us down a bit.

Does this every happen to you? Ever been running in 5th gear, focused and a little stressed, working intently on something that really needs to happen, and then something big and unexpected comes along, like a broken foot, and completely changes your plan? Man, what an opportunity to take a breath, alter your plans, and move forward with a balance of steadiness and ease. That's the yoga of life, I tell you.

I really appreciated what I learned from Phillipe and Gerry, the Aikido masters who co-facilitated the Yoga + Aikido workshop I hosted a few weeks ago. Ai means harmony. Ki is energy. Do means path. Therefore, Aikido is the path or practice of moving in alignment with harmony. In Aikido, you don't resist something come toward you--you match its energy and redirect. The result is minimal or no harm to both parties, ideally. So, when a broken foot came unexpected, we took a deep breath, understood this as the new reality, and moved forward accordingly. It has been a great practice of incorporating the principles of yoga into life.

When life shows you that your best laid plans are basically worthless, or that you're going to have to go with plan B, realize that this is a a game. Take a deep breath and organize and execute according to priority. Do your best and write off the rest.

 

A Life Burning Well

Have you ever found yourself saying things that you didn’t know you knew? What’s that about? I think it’s about understanding yourself deeply. There is something in the articulation of an experience or thought or feeling that taps us into our deeper knowledge. Writing, dance, photography, and blogging could all be part of the creative process that helps articulate an experience.

I love poetry and I think it’s an incredible avenue toward mindfulness. Poetry is understanding one’s self and life’s grand mysteries through bite-sized bits of awareness. Like the late, legendary Leonard Cohen says, “If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” The creative expression itself isn’t the experience; it’s a byproduct of the experience. More than the craft and beauty of their writing, we love poets for the people they are to write such words. And we love who they have become by writing their poetry.

I’ve been trying to learn about who I am my whole life. The same way writing or dance could tap this deeper wisdom, for me yoga and the separate practice of teaching yoga, has been a creative avenue of personal growth and understanding. Yoga and teaching yoga has showed me hidden gifts. It’s challenged me to confront my largest weaknesses. It’s showed me how much I love people and love to be involved in their own personal growth. What a privilege!

And in the process of practicing and teaching yoga, I’ve learned a bunch about myriad topics like philosophy, spirituality, anatomy, meditation, etc. After learning about all this fascinating, intricate, and sometimes esoteric stuff, I invariably come to the same fat and resounding question/statement: SO WHAT? What does any of this have to do with my daily life, or other people’s lives? What does any of this stuff have to do with going to work, living my live, having relationships, and fulfilling my dreams?

Dream and Write Retreat: Your Place in the Circle Harriman State Park, Idaho August 17-20 2017

My search into “SO WHAT?” has led me to the wonderful and challenging and enlightening practice of writing about Yoga. Writing has been one of my wisest yoga teachers. It’s here, in this creative expression of my own inquiry, where I find myself saying the things that I didn’t know I knew.

I can’t be having all the fun here. I invite you into this beautiful process of unfolding, knowledge, and experience, of finding your own deeper wisdom, by making your own personal expression of anything you do in life. Please write your response to this invitation (below) in the comments.

  1. Do something. Anything
  2. Document it in some way: journal, poem, Facebook post, blog, photo, draw, dance, whatever . . .
  3. Do it again
  4. Document it again, and maybe this time explain or teach it to someone.
  5. Watch to see yourself say things you didn't know you know. Watch for insights that come surprisingly naturally
  6. Then tell me about it, because I'm curious

The Crossroads

As I'm experiencing this transition away from the comfort and welcome of Salt Lake City to the new adventure which await me and my family in NYC, I'm thinking about the Crossroads, and how we are all at the Crossroads in someway or another.

The crossroads is a magical place. It’s the place where the ethereal, spiritual, and philosophical meets the physical, real, and practical. Where these two roads intersect is the holy ground of transformation, it’s the place where we have to drop our one-track thinking and see the many roads. Practicing yoga means to be at the crossroads.

One legend of the Crossroads involves the King of the Blues, Robert Johnson. It is said that one night, deep in the the Delta, Robert Johnson left home and as the clock struck midnight, he found himself standing at the intersection between here and there, now and then, this way and that way. There he found the Devil who showed him what was possible with a guitar and told him he would never amount to anything unless he sold his soul in exchange for learning how to play the guitar like nobody’s business. Robert Johnson weighed his options and cashed in his soul (or maybe found it) by making the deal with the devil. He threw his guitar over his shoulder and walked down the road to there, possibility, and everything, giving up on the roads from there, safe comfortable, and the predictable. As he strutted down the road he said to the Devil, “I am the blues.”

These crossroads don’t only involve the devil and the blues. Crossroads exist all over the place, wherever the other world meets this one, wherever the spirit world meets the physical one. Places like churches, temples, and holy sites. Your yoga mat is a crossroads. It’s like a tabernacle, what ancient people used as a traveling temple. Your yoga mat is the traveling temple where spirit and body meet to show you what’s possible inside of you.

And yes, I’ve meet the devil there before. I’ve seen him in sitting on my tight hip in kapatasana, pigeon pose; on my steel hamstrings in hanumanasana, the splits pose; and I’ve seen him doing a victory dance on my quivering raised leg in that damned standing splits pose. I’ve come face to face with my physical limitations, yes, but also with my own neurosis, my deepest fears, self-limiting thoughts, and deep, deep wells of grief. I’ve seen that everything is linked to everything else.

I’ve meet the divine on my mat as well.  I see regular joy in handstands, pleasure and peace in savasana, fun in transitions, and possibilities in postures. I get regular hits of insight, of purpose, and a deep sense of belonging. Most importantly, at the crossroads of where physical meets spiritual, I get regular glimpses of the real who and what I am.

Robert Johnson sold his soul, meaning he gave up the simple, naïve way of seeing the world for a richer, more comprehensive and real view of the world, never to go back to that old way. And for us to experience the larger view of ourselves we have to give up something. I believe instead of selling our soul, we sell the armor that protects us from experiencing only the good, the simple, and the happy. I believe that sometimes we must walk down the roads of grief, struggle, and pain to see how immensely beautiful life is.  It’s the larger view. It’s the view of heaven and it will cost you your life. At least, the way you’ve been living it before now. And you can never go back. But in the end after seeing what’s possible, would you want to?

This week, meet me at the crossroads. Meet me on the mat.


San Francisco Yoga Tour September 21-24 2017

Coffeehouse Confessionals

Several weeks ago, I put out an invitation for anybody who wanted to go to coffee. My intentions was simple: connect with people--no other agenda.

I thought that either NOBODY would respond to this invitation or this would be something really, really attractive for people. I mean coffee and conversation are awesome, right? And I was thrilled at how many people wanted to get together!

Subsequently in just a few weeks, I had almost 30 coffee dates! I I think I single-handedly spiked the coffee industry in Salt Lake City. I had to switch to de-caf after several sessions with people to keep me sane. 

We met in cafes, parks, went on walks, and had playdates with kiddos. I even did a Skype sesh with a friend who also teaches  yoga and who lives in Costa Rica. 

I loved meeting with so many people and I learned so much in the process. I was honored by how very personal some of our conversations became. We shared about our families, our jobs, our yoga practices. We expressed our fears and hopes, disappointments and desires.  We laughed and cried together. 

Certainly this was a kind of yoga, a union of body, mind, and spirit--the venue was just different than normal. 

Thank you for your trust, your great ideas for yoga classes and workshops, your love and support to me. I feel as if we are all just figuring out together what it means to be human and practicing whatever that is in the form of yoga and mindfulness, all so that we can mindfully go out and live our lives with purpose and clarity and hopefully make the world brighter in the process.

I would have loved to meet with all of you. Please know that I read every email that I get. Drop me a line and tell me what's on your mind. Tell me what's going on in your world. I'd love to hear your ideas, concerns, or you hellos. And watch out for some cool new yoga ideas, many of them generated from coffee dates.



Love,

Scott
 


San Francisco Yoga Tour

Sept. 14-17 2017

Early Bird Special: $675 before May 1

I'll Take Inner Guru for 500, Please.

I'll Take Inner Guru for 500, Please

All good teachers or interviewers know that the secret to evoking answers lies in asking the right questions.

As I was training to teach yoga, I would meet regularly with my teachers. We'd practice together. My teachers were available to answer questions I had. After several weeks of working together like this, I found that sometimes entire sessions would pass, their expertise readily available, and I hadn't so much as said hello to them. I really wanted to engage them; I wanted to be taught by them but didn't know what to ask. I came to understand that my teachers were willing to give me what I asked for. Judging by the type and quality of my questions, my teachers understood how much and what type of teaching I was ready to absorb. If I wasn't asking, they weren't teaching. In these sessions, they gave neither unsolicited information nor information I wasn't ready to absorb.
 
I started to formulate questions, often several days before our sessions. By searching and contemplating, I was amazed at how many of my questions were answered by experience and my own insight before I even proffered them to my teachers. The questions that did make it to my teachers were refined; they were specific and honed. With this specificity, my teachers and I were able to engage on the level I had craved.
 
After years of study, I approached one of my teachers and with wonder and confusion in my eyes I asked, "All of this knowledge is beautiful and inspiring, but what does it have to do with teaching a yoga class?" Wisely, my teacher smiled and without saying a word, she simply shook her head. Nothing else needed be said. I knew I was to find the answers to my questions myself and that somehow it was the asking that would be the lit a flame inside me.

Years later, I'm still looking for this answer, pleased with each new discovery that seems to piece together the puzzle. Not long after my teacher had so wisely taught me by saying nothing, I asked my other teacher who was moving, "What else do I need to know? How will I be taught?" To which he looked at me solemnly and said, "You have everything you need. You have the answers."
 
And somewhere inside we do have the answers, or at very least something inside knows where to look. Yoga is in part understanding our place in this Universe and appreciating the conversation between us and it. It seems to me that our opportunity to participate in this conversation depends largely on the questions that we ask, by how much we search. If we aren't asking, our teachers aren't teaching. Searching for and asking the right questions refines the listening of our everyday lives and prepares us for the type of learning we hope for. Carrying these questions into our yoga practice, our meditations, prayers, work, and daily lives prepares us to receive answers, sometimes in the least likely of ways. It teaches us in the ways we crave for. Sometimes yoga is simply the quiet discipline that will reveal the answers that were always there, like diamonds in the rock.
 
Sometimes it is just enough to ask the question. Let the answer come organically, when it's time for you to receive it. In the meantime, enjoy the game of watching the Universe respond. Enjoy the mindfulness of listening. Herein lies many of our answers. And maybe there are no answers. This is the answer.
 
Every part of you has a secret language.
Your hands and your feet say what you've done.
And every need brings in what's needed.
Pain bears its cure like a child
Having nothing produces provisions.
Ask a difficult question,
And the marvelous answer appears.
 
--Rumi
 
I encourage you to contemplate your big questions. Bring them to yoga class and listen, feel, experience the ways your practice, your inner-knowing, responds.

3 Special Yogic Techniques for a HOT Valentine’s

Scott Moore Yoga

Ayurveda is the sister-science of yoga, a discipline that promotes wholeness through self-observation and therapeutics such as diet, daily practices like meditation, herbal medicines, and Ayurvedic treatments.

The following is a fun recipe for a holistic Ayurveda Valentine’s experience which combines partner Abhyanga massage (an oil massage), The Heart Meditation, and a relaxing I Love You bath. Not only will this mélange of therapies wildly benefit your individual and collective body, mind, and spirit, but it’s also an inexpensive Valentine’s idea that will powerfully ignite your passion and prove to be downright sexy.

Plan on spending at least an hour for this event

Step 1: Get the Stuff You’ll Need

  • 4-5 towels and a washcloth you don’t mind getting oily
  • A space heater or method to warm up the bathroom to a comfortable temperature
  • Abhyanga oil. Try getting 12-16 oz. of organic sesame oil, the purer the better. Pure olive oil or safflower oil are good too but sesame is the best. Avoid coconut oil—according to Ayurvedic prescriptions, it’s not the right oil for the winter time for most body types
  • 40 pieces (minimum) of small paper notes, preferably cut into hearts
  • 2 pillows or meditation cushions
  • A timer—a kitchen timer or your phone works great but if you’re using your phone, make sure the ringer is off
  • Optional: tea lights if you like the candle-lit vibe
  • Optional: essential oils like lavender (calming), rosewood (passionate), ylang ylang (energizing), or sandalwood (grounding heart), to lightly sent your Abhyanga oil and perhaps bathwater

Step 2: Make the Preparations

  • Start by warming the bathroom, especially if this will take a several minutes
  • While the bathroom is warming, write your I Love Yous on the small pieces of paper. To do this, keep half of the small papers and give half to your partner. Each of you will spend a few minutes and write on each paper one phrase starting with, “I love_______” and fill in the blank. Several examples might be, “I love the way you smell,” “I love to wake up next to you,” “I love how nurturing you are to our children,” “I love to feel your kisses on my neck” “I love it when you (fill in intimate details here) me,” etc. Remember to make them personal and specific. They can be fun, silly, emotional, intimate, or sexy. One phrase per paper. Once you’ve both filled out your papers, don’t show them to your partner yet. Place them in individual envelopes and put them near the tub where they won’t get oily or wet
  • If you’d like to use essential oils in your I Love You Bath, keep your oil near the bathtub for later
  • Place one or two towels in the empty bathtub and one or two towels on the floor over the meditation cushions or pillows
  • Prepare your Abhyanga oil (the sesame oil) by gently warming it on the stove. Use the entire jar. Don’t let it get too hot, you don’t want to cook it. You may wish to add a few drops of essential oils to scent it. Once warm, put the Abhyanga oil into a bowl and put it in the bathroom

Step 3: The Abhyanga Massage

Sesame Oil

Abhyanga is a full-body oil massage that can be done by yourself or by a therapist or in this case, your Valentine’s Day partner. This luxurious treatment has extensive benefits ranging from calming the nervous system, lubricating the soft tissues of the body, and creating an auric protection for you and your partner’s energy both individually and collectively. Couple’s Abhyanga will also create an emotional and energetic bond and serve to heal emotional wounds or to further strengthen the heart connection and passion between you.

To perform couple’s Abhyanga, you and your partner will remove your clothing and step into the empty bathtub onto one or two towels in the bottom of the empty bathtub to prevent slipping and to absorb the oil from going down the drain and potentially clogging it.

Bring your warmed (but not hot) oil with you. Now begin to dip your hands into the oil and each of you will simultaneously massage the oil slowly onto your partner’s body. It’s important to cover every surface of your partner’s body completely but be careful not to get the oil into your partner’s eyes, especially if you have used essential oils. Without too much oil on your hands, massage your partner’s scalp. Oiling the hair is itself an excellent treatment, but if you don’t want to get your hair too oily, don’t rub too much oil through the hair. The Abhyanga process should take several minutes. This will get . . . hot.

When you feel finished with the massage, either wrap a towel around you or remain naked, but exit the tub and sit on the towels you’ve placed on the bathroom floor over the meditation cushions or pillows. It’s important to allow additional time for the oil from the Abhyanga to continue to absorb into your skin, so you’re going to be an oily mess for a few minutes. Just enjoy it. Make sure the temperature in the bathroom is warm—nothing puts you out of balance and kills the mood like the cold.

Step 4: Prepare for the Heart Meditation and I Love You Bath

Remove the towel(s) from the bottom of the bathtub and begin to fill it with warm water. Remember to remove or unplug the space heater if it’s still on. Space heaters and water don’t mix. Even the magic of Ayurveda can’t heal electrocution! You want your bath water temperature to be very warm but not quite piping-hot. While the tub is filling, (apply essential oils to the water if desired), you may continue massaging each other. Since you’ve got a few minutes, try telling each other one of your favorite memories you have with your parter, or tell them how you fell in love with them. Once the bath is full, turn off the water and, sit (you’re still oily) on the towels covering meditation cushions or pillows and begin the Heart Meditation.

Step 5: The Heart Meditation

The Heart Meditation is a breathing, meditation, and energy practice designed to use tantric techniques to bring you and your partner closer together and strengthen and celebrate your heart-connection. Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. Then, begin gazing directly into each other’s eyes and maintain this gaze throughout the entire Heart Meditation. Attempt to keep unbroken eye contact during the entire meditation.

Begin the timer and establish eye contact with your partner and attempt to keep this gaze for the entire duration of the Heart Meditation. It’s incredible how quickly this will build intimacy. While gazing, begin to breathe slowly and deeply and match the breath pattern of your partner. Use ujjayi breath if possible. This tandem breath will cultivate your individual and shared heart energy.

As you inhale, relax and visualize your breath moving in through your nostrils, past your heart, and down into your open pelvis. As you exhale, contract mula bandha (the muscular floor of the pelvis) and visualize your breath moving back up, past your heart, and out the top of your head. This process will start your personal energy to flow through your chakras and illuminate Anahata, your heart chakra. Both on the inhale and the exhale, visualize your breath passing by your heart and picture your heart swelling and becoming more sensitive, able to give and receive feelings and love with each pass of the breath.

After a minute or so, begin to pay keen attention to your partner’s breath. Maintain eye contact. After several breath cycles, reach your heart energy outward toward the heart energy of your partner by visualizing a column of light or color connecting your two hearts. Picture this column strengthening and increasing intensity with each breath (again, this will really turn on the heart). Try to feel into the heart of your partner until you feel as if your hearts are one heart, breathing and beating together. Don’t be surprised if while you do this a range of emotions emerges, anything from laughter and silliness to caring and compassion and perhaps deep desire and passion. When the timer has rung, kiss your partner and bow to each other with “Namaste,” meaning I honor the divine light which we both share.

Tip: During the Heart Meditation, keep the tip of your tongue touching the roof of your mouth with your jaw soft. It sounds weird but this technique is one of the secret tantric techniques of yoga to establish a profound energy flow all the way through your energy channels, first for yourself then to connect deeper to the shared energy of you and your partner. Also, to maintain this heart-connection during love making or while making out, keeping your steady ujjayi breath moving, visualize directing vital energy into your pelvis and heart. Then touch the tip of your tongue to your partners and feel the shared energy moving through you. This process creates the oneness of truly blissful, transformational love making.

 photo COUPLE20IN20BATHTUB.jpg

Step 6: The I Love You Bath

After the Heart Meditation, remove your towels if you’re wearing them and slip into the filled bathtub. This will allow the excess oil from your Abhyanga massage to dissipate and warm you up again if you got cold during The Heart Meditation.

While you’re soaking, grab your envelopes with your little papers of I Love Yous. Take turns reading all the things that you love about your partner. Read them out loud to your partner so you’re telling them what you love about them. Soak for as long as you like. Avoid using soap to wash away the oil. Instead, use a washcloth to wipe away excess oil. The point of Abhyanga is to absorb as much oil as much as possible through your skin. Much of the oil will dissipate into the bath and will eventually wash down the drain. After the bath, pat yourself dry using a towel you don’t mind getting oily and trying to keep a thin layer of oil on you.

Step 7: Finish

Finally, hop into bed for a cozy, romantic remainder of your evening.

Lessons In Fear

Coleman Barks Guest House

In 2009, I attend and co-hosted a yoga retreat in the tropical wonderland of Costa Rica. One of the greatest appeals about the retreat was the fact that we got to live right in the thick of the rainforest. The prospect of living so proximal to nature was certainly alluring; however, I must admit that something I didn't think through completely was the fact  that moving into the  rain forest meant becoming roommates with those already living there, e.g., alien insects, poisonous frogs and deadly scorpions, leopards, jaguars, pumas, and really, really, really big spiders.
 
One night, I was turning down the covers (you see where this is going), preparing to hop into bed, when I encountered a rainforest roommate who also happened to be the biggest damn spider in the history of the world. He was big and brown and hairy and by the look of him could easily do push-ups with a Volkswagen on his back.

Crouched on the floor, conspicuously poised right next to the bedpost, the spider made it quite obvious to me that his plan was to wait quietly next to my bed, unnoticed, until I went to sleep, and then stealthily crawl up the bedpost, latch onto my jugular vein, and suck me dry, like the unrequited, wanton yearnings of a pallid male model in the tweener saga "Twilight."
 
At first I just stood there, stunned (this is their first attack tactic, you know; they stun you with their mere presence so that you are too afraid to run away, and then they come over and eat you whole.) I knew that I couldn't kill it; I get the guilts when I kill a mosquito, let alone something big enough to have its own Facebook page. Besides, I think you need a permit to kill an animal that big.
 
I grabbed a glass jar and went back into the other room, where I crouched and looked at the spider. He was looking back at me.

He didn't move.

I didn't move.

I told myself that I was trying to wear him down. After a long time in that position, I performed the most courageous act I've ever executed in my life: I sprang forward and with lightning-quick reflexes placed the jar over the spider.

Suddenly, the heretofore static Goliath leapt into a frenzy of motion, slithering and squirming, trying fruitlessly to find purchase for any of his eight legs upon the smooth walls of his new glass prison.

I grabbed a stack of poems I planned to share at the retreat and slid the paper underneath the jar, a new floor for the spider. Now with the spider between jar and paper, I felt confident to lift him up and take him next door to our friend Molly, who was fascinated with all the flora and fauna of the rain forest. I knew she'd love this.
 
After we all ooed and ahhhed, and had a good communal freakout, we decided to set our captive free. We walked down the path so that the 8-legged monster would be dissuaded to simply crawl back to my room and continue on with his plan to kill me. We lifted the jar off the spider and quickly backed away.

To show us that he wasn't afraid, the spider just sat there and smugly claimed ownership of the stack of poems he was resting on. "Let's see how strong you crazy bi-peds are now that I don't have this glass force field around me," he said with all 40 billion of his eyes.

So we did the only logical thing: we photographed the beast so we could show our friends the next day just how monstrous this spider was. We planned on posting it on social media and wondered if we could link to the spiders page.
 
It wasn't until I looked at the photos the next day that I realized just how perfect the scene was. This spider was stretched, all eight hairy legs of him, upon the poem called the "Guest House" by Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks). In this poem, the 13th century Persian Sufi mystic asserts that life is a guest house and that we must entertain everything that comes to our door. The poem goes something like this: "This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy a depression, a meanness, a 900 lb spider who wants to kill you. . ." My translation might be different than Coleman Barks's.
 
Rumi says that we are to entertain everything that comes our way because, who knows, the event that happens to show up on our doorstep, though uninvited, may be the very thing we need, or the very thing to prepare us for something else that comes next; it may teach us something important and valuable.

For me, yoga is such wonderful training to keep me aware and open enough to see these visitors as lessons and teachers, as well as handle them with some poise and grace when they come knockin'.
 
What I learned from my unexpected visitor:

You have to take whatever comes, good or bad. We cannot always control what comes our way, but we can control how we react to it
In itself, the difficult act of just staying open to what shows up changes us, heals us, transforms us
Some things happen for a reason. Other things just happen
Often what scares us most isn't malicious but just another part of the world following its own script
Oh, and make sure that when sleeping in the rainforest you check around your bed before you hop in

 
The Guesthouse


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Scott

Time Is a Phony

The ancient and epic poem the Ramayana says that long ago there was a powerful Demon king named Ravana. His power blinded him with pride, deceived him into thinking he was larger than Dharma or Truth. Ravana stole a princess, Sita, another's wife, and a war was waged to get her back.

And though Ravana was often blinded by pride, he was not completely blind to profound understanding. There was a moment in the tale where Ravana is mentally preparing to go to battle against Rama, the unbeatable prince, God incarnate. That night, he went up to a great tower, onto the roof of his palace, and suddenly had a great insight regarding time. With this understanding, he suddenly had a great feeling of freedom like a band had broken from his chest. He danced for all of the heavens looking on and with his last step felt as though he'd crushed the tight hold with which time had him.

On his way down the stairs from the ramparts, Ravana is confronted by Kala, the god of time. Kala is old and decrepit and wasted like a skeleton. He tells Ravana that soon he will be in time's power and that Ravana will have to spend the rest of time paying for the sins of his lifetime.

Ravana listens for a moment then scoffs, "You little liar!"

Kala retorts,"What? You stole Sita and you'll pay-".

"You are the thief and not I," said Ravana. "For a few moments' pleasure you take whole lives in payment. And whatever you give you steal back, by fraud, from hiding, when you're not watched. Death and misery are your good friends-but you are yourself unreal: you do not exist; you cannot steal from me."

"Do you know who I am?" cried Kala.

"A marketplace of sorrows," Replied Ravana

 Kala said, ". . . your home is empty your friends have died and all the good times are long gone . . . all must change and die . . . ."

"We know better than that," said the Deamon King, "Love is eternal and we are beyond your reach. . .  But I must be on my way now, I can't be late, and my time is far too valuable to waste on anything but daydreams. . . Good love never dies."
(Buck, pp. 334-9)


Despite his faults, Ravana exposes a startling truth: the past has dissolved, the future is an abstraction (has never been, really). All we have is now. We are always in the present. But despite the unreal natures of past and future, we seem to spend a lot of time there. Pining or regretting the past, biding time or biting our nails waiting for the future. What we need is here. What we have is now. I think what we really practice in yoga is presence. Presence with our breath. Presence with our muscles and bones in postures. Presence with other practitioner's in class. What we pay for when we go to a yoga class isn't the space, isn't the time to do yoga, isn't even necessarily instruction. What we get when we do yoga is a reminder to look inside and experience the timeless, the result of living continuously in the present.

One morning I was sitting in Small Town Coffee House in Kapa'a Kauai soaking up the morning sun, feeling the tropical sweetness, and savoring a cup of jo when I looked over to the clock on the wall and instead of numbers pointing to the hour, each hour mark read, "Now."

I believe clocks are mostly misunderstood: they only point to now but we translate what we read into what has or hasn't happened, into past or future.

This week, break the illusion of time and practice being present. Yoga is a wonderful reminder about presence. We can practice presence at any moment of the day.
 

What We Need Is Here
 
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
 
Wendell Berry
 

Works Cited:
Buck, William. Ramayana. Berkley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1976

Scott

 

Some Powerful Women

Friends,

With all that is happening socially and politically this week, I wanted to add my voice and vote toward the power of women.

I believe in women. I believe in their essence, their mystery, their strength, and their wisdom. I believe in equality of all people, including and especially women. I believe to fully understand my power as a man, I must understand the essence of a woman.

With that in mind, I thought I'd write a little about the power of women, specifically two of my favorite goddesses, Shakti and Akhilandeshvari. Understanding their story helps me to understand myself.

This following are excerpts from my Deepen Your Practice course I did several months ago. I'll include the link below so if you want, you can go to my website and supplement this email by hearing stories, reading poems, and seeing videos about these goddesses and concepts. Please do, there's some really excellent stuff there.

First, Akhilandeshvari: Goddess Never-Not-Broken

This amazing Goddess sources her power from acknowledging the fact that she doesn't have her shit together. It's not that she's a hot mess and refuses to do anything about it. Rather, she refuses to shy away from those harsher realities we all go through: heartache, disaster, crisis, and grief. Akhilandeshvari is the compassionate Goddess who remains broken into pieces to show us how that too can be a power.

Even her ride is a reminder of her ability to hang with disaster. She rides around on a ferocious crocodile to remind us that the very fear of disaster can be the vehicle for transformation, for stepping into action, and for seeing the absolute Truth in the moment. Often in times like these, what is most important in life shines through. That's the power of Akhilandeshvari.

While we may never wish for an encounter with Akhilandeshvari, her presence marks the absolute truth of freedom from habits that don't serve us, stifling routine, and the past. Though it may not be the path we'd chosen for this awareness, her presence unmistakably wakes us up. 

Akhilandeshvari's sister Goddess, Kali, similarly deals with destruction, the thrashing of things that need to expire, but in a fundamentally different way. She's the one who deals the blow with her uncompromising sword.

Opposite is Akhilandeshvari who yields to the destruction in submission and humility as powerful teachers. 

May we borrow the power of Akhilandeshvari's ability to transform heartache and crisis into illumination.

Second, Shakti: Goddess of Energy, Power, and Movement
Shiva is of consciousness pure and simple. Another word for this in Sanskrit is Perusha. He is the primordial male energy. The reason I bring him up is because the perfect and equal balance of Perusha, is the godess Shakti demonstrating Prakriti or movement, change, beauty, flavor, and suchness. Shakti is the primordial female energy and represents Mother Nature. There's a beautiful marriage between Shiva and Shakti, Perusha and Prakriti, consciousness or being and our physical and changeable nature. 

It's said that the Shakti power within all of us resides in our sacrum, the sacred bone close to our root that generates our deepest power. Through yoga, meditation, mantras, and ceremony, this power may be released and is felt as physical energy which moves up the spine along the nadis (energy chanels) Ida and Pingala, primary paths of prana (male and female), and that power once released is called Kundalini. Many practitioners have described the physically enlightening moment when their Kundalini awakened. Kundalini Yoga is a style of yoga whose practice is to make this power rise through its practitioners. 

Go to my web site and check out all the extra videos, stories, poems, etc around these two powerful goddesses. May they remind us of the distinguishable power that resides within all of us. Let us stand in solidarity and celebrate the power of women.

Come to class on Friday night and practice to my fabled "Girl Power" playlist. Really fun!

Scott