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
 

Coffeehouse Confessionals

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

 

The Worry Haiku

Salt Lake City Yoga

We are all subject to doubt and indecision from time to time. Recently I was wallowing in my routine despair about life and all of its desperate decisions.

You know, the typical: What am I doing with my life? What would have happened if I would have done things differently? Why is Pluto suddenly not a planet anymore and why didn't I get to vote?

So, feeling burdened by the weight and whirlwind of indecision about what direction my life should go, I decided to meditate. After mulling my mind over the various directions I could choose, I got tired of the fruitlessness of freaking out and instead tried to simply be aware, to focus on my breath rather than focus on my problems, to find that place that I've heard is always peaceful.
 
It took a while but I found some peace there in my heart. And in a moment of clarity, my mind recalled that all these temporary and illusorily (but still important) decisions will be made clear the more I cultivate and understand that peace, that inner self. I realized that I didn't need to make a decision about those things now. That what I could to do is grow my relationship with what I call the True Self, the part that isn't defined by all of these temporary details of those momentarily important decisions.

I felt that perhaps whatever my decisions, actions, or endeavors I faced, when made based from a grounded place of inner-peace, will be the product of something trusted and sure. Also, when I looked at my decisions or problems from that place of real clarity, I could see how I was reacting to fears and worries instead of looking at these questions with objectivity where I could move forward with power and conviction. With that sure knowledge of seeing things as they are, I had the courage to step out to those precarious edges of potential, pushed by a power of my own grounded knowledge of Self.
 
And then suddenly there was no more searching because I'd momentarily found the source-it was right here all along. I've also discovered that when I've made a decision based on this knowledge of Self, it doesn't exempt me from problems or struggles further down the road but at least I know that the difficulty I will encounter is necessary turbulence for the path I've chosen. It is the Tapas, the Sanskrit concept meaning the heat necessary for transformation. It's the medicine.  It's what will continue to lead me down my path of self-discovery, the path that feels the most right to me because ultimately it is the product of my True Self.
 
And as I go that True Self whispers like Gandalf in my ear, "Speak your truth, act with honesty and integrity, and always listen."
 
Haiku:
 
The Clash wails questions
Weighed down by indecision.
All things grow from Self.
 

You Take Care of Everyone. Who Takes Care of You?


Begin an incredible journey of deep self-discovery through blissful practice of
Yoga Nidra.

I get it.

There's a lot on your shoulders. It feels like if you weren't there to do your job at home, work, and the community, that life would fall apart. It's true, you're very important to making sure that the world runs well.

You take care of everyone but who takes care of you?

First and foremost that should be yourself. And how do you take care of yourself? Do you have a weekly yoga routine? Do you schedule a massage for yourself? Do you make time to have time with your dearest friends? Do you schedule a haircut or manicure or something for yourself? You gotta take care of you.

Part of taking care of yourself is understanding how you are also responsible for your own happiness. One of the most valuable teachings I've ever received is to be responsible for my own happiness, instead of misplacing that responsibility onto someone or something else.

Once, while I was living in Korea, I visited a monk in who lived alone in the forest. I hiked through the forest and found his house and he invited me for lunch. As we sat down to an exquisite yet simple meal, the trees were early-spring-green, the air was humid and fresh, and the air was quiet. I felt a calm excitement that everything in the world were perfect at this moment.

The first thing I told him was that it was very beautiful where he lived and that he must be very peaceful here. He looked straight into my eyes and without malice asked, "Why do I need a peaceful place to live to have inner peace? If the forest burned down tomorrow, would my peace burn with it?" It was a powerful teaching for me to realize that peace could only truly come from within.

Yogi's often recite the ancient Gayatri Mantra. It teaches us that if we were to truly understand the unity of all things, we would understand that we already are the happiness, peace, or prosperity we feel that we lack. Even if this idea is easy to understand philosophically, it takes a lifetime of practice to experience this truth. In essence, yoga is uncovering the layers that blind us from seeing what is already there, including our own care and happiness.

If you're interested in hearing me chant the Gayatri Mantra and perhaps would like to incorporate this mantra into a meditation practice of your own, click on the link below where you can hear and learn the mantra. If you're up for a great meditation/changing practice, learn the mantra by heart (or read and follow along) and use a mala to help you count as you repeat this mantra 108 times.

With such a practice you'll emerge feeling grounded, in tune with yourself, and closer to the understanding that you are in control of you. You'll feel as if you are no different than the happiness you seek.

This powerful theme of sourcing the deep power within you through the art and practice of meditation is the primary focus of my course that goes live on Friday, January 13. It's an online Yoga Nidra Meditation course that is designed to help you Source Your True Power through the blissful practice of Yoga Nidra (guided meditation).

Some of the features and benefits of this course:

Lifetime access to a vast library of meditations, breathing practices, stories, myths, chants, podcasts, articles, and more
It's online so you can go at your own pace
It's a practice that will help you reduce stress, feel verrrrry relaxed, while also uncover the deep power within you
You'll be sleeping better, have greater confidence, and be a better whatever you are


Registration ends and the course begins Friday so don't miss out. Click below to read more about the course.

All the best to you!

Scott

A New Meditation for a New Year

SOURCING YOUR TRUE POWER an online Yoga Nidra Course begins Jan. 13.

 

Basic Information:

  • 6 modules
  • Includes audio recordings, discussions, chants, lectures, videos, etc.
  • Recordings are yours to keep, repeat as often as you like
  • Connect to other students via social media
  • Perform at your own pace, at a time that works for you

Happy New Year!

We made it!

We've got a bright new year ahead of us, full of possibilities and opportunities. 

This is a once-a-year opportunity to set a powerful trajectory forward for possibilities in this new year through setting intentions by practicing yoga and meditation.

Intentions are powerful. They streamline our forward movement. You ever hear the phrase, "If you're not sure where you want to go, any path will take you there?"

There's untold power in simply knowing what you want, even if you're not sure how to get there. A mentor once told me, "First, figure out what you want, then you'll figure out how you'll do it."

Both understanding what you want and setting the intentions for possibilities in the new year takes practice.

So I've created something to practice. It's a Yoga Nidra (guided meditation) recording designed to help you become very relaxed, define what amazing things you want for yourself in this new year, and then visualize what your life is going to look like when this thing happens. It's is an extremely powerful tool to help you to set forward motion for 2017.

The meditation is about 31 minutes long, so plan on setting aside just a little bit of time take care of yourself in this way. Plan on getting comfortable, lying down, and setting aside all other distractions. It's designed to make you feel very relaxed. Don't worry if you fall asleep, the part of you that I'm speaking to is still paying attention.


In yoga, Sankalpa means a slow growing seed of intention you plant in your heart through intention. This meditation plants the seed and starts to prepare the soil for it to grow and to bloom. With the help of this meditation, you'll find your life begin to open up in new and exciting ways.

I've made two versions, one with background music, and one without. You can stream or download them by clicking the buttons below. 

I hope you enjoy this recording, everyone. Share it with anyone you want. Consider practicing it regularly, maybe daily for a week or so, then at least once or twice a week after that. Come back to it regularly to keep your mind and heart honed to your forward motion of 2017. 

And if you're interested in learning more about the mind-blowing practice of Yoga Nidra, I'll be starting my online Yoga Nidra course, Sourcing Your True Power on January 13. It's dedicated to the idea that you are more powerful than you can imagine and through this illuminating practice of Yoga Nidra, you can Source Your True Power. I loved putting it together and I'm really proud of it. You can see more details below and I'll be sending out more information about it. 

Happy New Year! 

Scott


Download

Stream

They Took Away Nap Time. I'm Bringing it Back.


In Kindergarten . . .

Salt Lake City Yoga

everyone valued nap time. It gave us a break from all the rigorous stimulation of learning new things, interacting with other people, and striving tounderstand this beautiful yet complicated world.

For some reason, someone decided that nap time was a luxury, expendable, a frivolous waste of time. Well, they were wrong. And I'm bring it back.

Rest is something we can become adept at or poor at. Have you ever been around someone who doesn't know how to relax? Exactly. It's a mess. Is that someone (at least sometimes) you?

Our ability to rest is one of the markers of our wellness.

I've been teaching Yoga Nidra from 6-7 pm on Wednesday nights at 21st Yoga to help people rest. Not just napping (although it frequently happens). In Yoga Nidra we follow a specific method, like a guided meditation, that offers practitioners deep rest as the gateway into experiencing the truest part of Self. It's profound yoga with amazing side benefits.

And when you finish you feel like you've not only discovered something about yourself, but also as if you just awoke from a long, satisfying nap.

Then, you can go back home and be less of a pain in the ass to all those around you.

In the spirit of service, I'd like to give you a free 30-minute Yoga Nidra recording that has been specifically designed to help you understand and appreciate emotions at the same time as becoming very relaxed in your body.

I'd probably sell this online for around $5 but I'd like to give it to you for free because I think we all could use it. In this recording, you'll hear my voice guide you through Yoga Nidra and the gentle, dulcet sounds of my clarinet in the background. Some soft chimes will bring you back out.

I invite you to carve out 30 minutes to do this practice today. Then, please join me Wednesday nights for the live sessions. You won't regret it.

Enjoy! Share it if you want.


Scott
 

What's Good: Gear and Clothes Guide

Salt Lake City Yoga

Tell me if this resonates with you . . .

Your yoga mat has started its end-of-life journey toward compost and you need a new one but as you search the internet you have no idea which one to buy. There are so many different mats and it's too overwhelming so you just keep using your old mat, the one you like(d), even though there seems to be more of the mat left on the floor when your done than exists in your yoga bag when you leave.

Or your friend kindly taps you on the shoulder after yoga to tell you that she knows the color of your underwear, not because she's an undie-psychic, but because the material and stretch-quality of your yoga pants allows for little to be imagined.

That and it's the holidays, a time when we maybe want to buy some yoga stuff for ourselves or our friends or let Santa know what we might want, provided we find ourselves on the "Nice" list.

Well, in my 16 years of teaching and practicing yoga, I've come to know a great deal about yoga gear and stuff, everything from yoga mats to meditation cushions to yoga clothes, and for what it's worth, I'd love to give you my two-cents of advice about a few things.

Best Yoga Props: 
Hugger Mugger 
Crazy-ass name, great company, wonderful products. One of the things I love about this company is that they are from my fair city of Salt Lake and are perhaps one of the worlds largest retailers of yoga equipment but haven't lost their connection to their costumers.

When outfitting my yoga studios (may they rest in peace) I used Hugger Mugger to get top-of-the-line yoga bolsters, blankets, straps, blocks, and rental mats. The CEO or COO of the company stopped by the studio to check in with our needs and asked me for feedback which he readily took and incorporated into his products. Hugger Mugger makes clothing and mats but whereI feel HM really excels is in their yoga props like bolsters, blocks, etc. They do make a few yoga mats that are middle to high range quality. Their best mat that both my wife and I have used for years is their
Para Ruber Mat. It's grippy, made of eco-friendlier rubber, and will last a long time. It's a bit pricey but is their top-shelf mat and worth the cash in my opinion. In the spirit of full-disclosure, if you go to their siteyou may see me modeling a bunch of their stuff. I'm not paid to represent Hugger Mugger, I just love this company and stand by (and on) their products.

Best Yoga Mat: Manduka
There is one yoga mat that stands miles above the rest, the Maharaja of  all yoga mats, the one that you'll  need to buy only once, the mat that gets better (more dialed and grippy) with time, and that's the Manduka Pro. It's a thick, heavy mat that grips well, works well with sweat, and stays put by not bunching or folding under my hands and feet. 

I spent over $100 for this mat (bought one for my wife, too), but since I'm serious about yoga and I find myself on my mat, either practicing or teaching, several times a day, the Maduka Pro is no-brainer, just the tool of the trade. I love this mat and didn't think twice about dropping over $200 for two yoga mats. 

Manduka company sells other stuff like bags that easily tote their enormous mat, cork blocks, etc., but for my money, I can get that at Hugger Mugger. They make a bunch of other mats but I think that this company is made by their Pro mat.

The one thing that Manduka doesn't sell but SHOULD is a rolling luggage caddy to haul around their heavy-but-worth-it Pro Mat. 

I am one of the rare people who bought my second Pro Mat, not because the other one wore out but because my truck was stolen and when I got it back, the three things that didn't come back with it was my trucks catalytic converter and both my and my wife's Manduka Pro Mat. They never caught my truck thief but wherever he is, I hope he's using my extraordinary mat as the platform for his soul-searching and self-improvement.

Some people love the tacky quality of the Jade Mat but I don't love this mat. It sticks, but doesn't hold up if it ever gets left in the sun, it breaks down relatively quickly, and has a lingering petrol smell that I don't love. Check it out for yourself to decide. 

Best Yoga Pants (ladies) K-Deer, AlbionUintah Standard
No body love popping their butt in the air in downdog, or bending over into a forward fold knowing that the elastic in their pants is revealing everything that your pants are trying to cover. I swear, in my job I see more underwear than the sales force at Victoria Secret.

Public Service Announcement: tights do NOT double well as yoga pants, especially if you mind others seeing what's underneath them.

Instead, buy a pair of pants from K-Deer. They make the absolute highest quality of pants I've seen. These pants are chic and unique. I love that they are made in America and not promoting sweat-shop or child labor. In my opinion, K-Deer is two steps ahead in quality of all other brands. I bought a pair for my wife for Valentines Day. She says that she loves their quality but says they keep you a little warm, great if your body temp runs cold.

She loves K-Deer's tops even more than she loves their pants. 

Another brand my wife really loves for yoga pants is Uintah Standard. They are Salt Lake local, 300 south, so that's cool. 

One more company I really like, in part because they are local to Salt Lake City, is Albion. They have a great online presence, a great selection, and even have a store in City Creek Mall. They also sell a bunch of other stuff, including swimwear.

Best Yoga Clothes for Guys. M Body. I'm always searching for good yoga clothes for men. John Cottrell is an incredible yoga teacher with a wonderful business that sells yoga clothes for men. If you want a excellent yoga clothes for men, check out his site or drop by 21st Yoga to look at them or buy them. I stand behind John's stuff. 

Best Meditation Stuff: Insight, Hugger Mugger, Shambhala 

Good meditation gear can mean the difference between a great meditation and your feet falling asleep, where all you can concentrate on is whether or not you're feet will need to be amputated after the session.

First, I love the meditation timer from Insight Timer. It's an app that you can download on your iPad or phone available through your app store. It is a has a nice bell and is versatile to allow interval bells during meditation so if I'm doing a long meditation, I know that every 10 minutes or so, I will hear a bell to either mark time or bring my wandering mind back to presence. There are thousands of guided meditations on there, including a few of my own. Also, you can connect with other like-minded people all across the globe with this app. 

Personally, I meditate using a Hugger Mugger's V-Shaped Meditation Cushion and their standard zabutan underneath my feet. I can sit like that for hours without my feet falling asleep. Both are relatively affordable and great quality. 

If you're going for the gold with meditation gear, check out the meditation supplies at Shambhala. My friend and mindfulness teacher Vicki Overfelt swears by their stuff. I've used Shambhala stuff before and I agree that they are really excellent.

Please share your favorites with all of us by leaving a comment below. 

What I Love

I've started a practice with this email that I've loved continuing each Thanksgiving week. It's been an emotional and heart opening writing practice for me to simply list all the things I love. I know that gratitude and love aren't necessarily the same thing but rather than a trite list of things I'm grateful for, I like to add a little gasoline to the heart flame, go right for the jugular, and frame this list with all the things I love. 

So, Kleenex nearby, here I go . . . 

I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. Here's a pic of me with my two greatest loves!

It may be strange, but I love to hear my love's sleep. When Elio wakes in the night, I'm on the "night shift," so I get up and help put him back to bed. I hold him or give him a bottle and when I can hear his breathing turn deep and rhythmic, I know he's asleep and I creep out of his room to slide back into covers that have lost their warmth. I slide into bed next to Sen and listen for her soft, somehow feminine breaths. I close my eyes and with my heart resting in the comfort of my loves sleeping, I allow sleep to take me. 

I love Seneca. She's a rare and remarkable woman. She sees my best, encourages me to reach further and stretch myself and holds my heart tenderly. She's an incredible baby-mama and I want to be a better man because of her. She's everything to me. I love you, babe.

 

It's been an ass-kicker of a few months! Mostly because my sister was killed in a motorcycle accident. Yet because of this,

Scott & Charity.JPG

there's been a wonderful heart connection with our family. Going to Europe, specifically Paris, was on my sister's must-do list and that's exactly what we did this summer, on our way to Spain for our yoga retreat that Kim Dastrup and I hosted. I loved traveling with her, showing her one of my favorite cities in the world, dragging her all over that town. I will always cherish those memories.

I've experienced a few moves in these last few months: yoga studios a few times and homes a few times. It's always unsettling to uproot, but I've replanted both into a wonderful home in the aves and a beautiful studio at 21st and 21st. I'm really, really, really, happy to have both of these homes, both to lay my head and raise my family as well the wonderful home studio to teach yoga. 

I love teaching yoga. It NEVER feels like work. I love how it makes me grow and learn while I'm trying to teach. I love that it connects me with people and I'm honored by the trust that people give me. I love that people share their experiences and practice with me. It's a real honor. Thank you. 

I love moving my body. I've been outta commission for the last 10 weeks or so tending an Achilles injury but that's feeling better and I can't wait to get back into the action with my yoga practice and my trail running love. 

I love running on a trail. I love talking with a friend over coffee. I love good music. I love writing this newsletter. I love playing sax with my amazing band, The Soulistics. I love growing and learning. I love connecting to spirit. I love collaborating with cool people to offer incredible yoga and mindfulness workshops. I love Yoga Nidra. I love meditation. I love working hard. I love relaxing with a glass of wine on the couch and talking about the day with my love. I love Justin's Peanut Butter Cups. I love frozen hot chocolate at Hatch Family Chocolates. I love a good beer. I love Seneca's cooking. I love sitting down to an amazing meal cooked by Sen and her dad. I love playing in the yard with Elio. I love bath time together. I love singing songs with him. I love watching him grow. I love to feel his little arms around my neck as me makes exaggerated and earnest grunts while he hugs me. I love live music. I love a road trip. I love San Francisco. I love my family. I love my surviving sister, twin, mom and dad. I love Publik Coffee. I love a nice pen. I love a good shave. I love traveling, specifically traveling with Seneca. I love the opportunity to grow. I love connection to others. I love to watch others try and grow and meet their dreams. I love a nice pair of shoes. I love shirts that have been dry cleaned and pressed. I love a nice bottle of wine. I love to make my house beautiful. I love to play the sax. I love to close my eyes and improvise on a tune. I love a good massage. I love hosting yoga retreats. I love other yoga teachers. I love my soul sisters Kim, Christy, Nan, Vicki, and Marit and my soul brothers, Steve, John, and Jason. I love art. I love the symphony. I love dressing up and going out on a date. 

I love YOU!

(eye dab, nose blooooow!)

Make your own list and share it somehow. What a great practice! 

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Source Your Magic

Once, Laurence Olivier, the master of masters, perhaps one if not THE best play-actors of our time had just delivered his finishing lines of Shakespeare's Hamlet. The entire theatre was cupped in a quiet, magical revery, a rare experience that only happens when witnessing the finger of God. Then after several long seconds, the audience exploded in exuberant applause.

Olivier stormed off stage, marched straight to his dressing room, and slammed the door. Perplexed, the stage manager eventually knocked timidly on Olivier's door and entered.

"Mr. Olivier, what's the matter, you were absolutely brilliant?" To which Laurence Olivier roared, "I know, and I have absolutely no idea how I did it!"

Have you ever read a poem, seen a dance or acting performance, heard someone speak, or witnessed or something, where you sensed that that person was tapped into pure magic, something enormous, larger than just the every-day conversation? 

I'm confident that YOU have had an experience where you sourced that kind of magic within yourself to do something extraordinary.

Sometimes, experiencing that kind of magic is purely accident. But what if you could practice sourcing that magical part of you so that you could somehow turn it on at will, especially in those really clutch moments.

One of the best ways I know of practicing sourcing this magic is through Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is a relaxing form of awareness practice. It's kinda like a guided meditation.

What you do is lie down and listen to me guide you to get relaxed . . . really relaxed. Then I guide you into an acute awareness of myriad things including sensations in your body, your thoughts and emotions, and even those inner-archetypes like that inner wise person, healer, or protector who often have a surprising message for your conscious mind. You are more powerful than you probably realize and Yoga Nidra helps you to source that power in a very real and practical way. With practice you will gain a relationship with the magic inside of you. Maybe sounds out there but is really practical and simple and feels amazing. 

After Yoga Nidra, you emerge feeling extremely relaxed, if nothing else, and we always do our best work when we are relaxed and at ease. But more often than not, you come away with some sort of greater insight into your deep inner-self.  

If you'd like to experience a FREE learning module developed to help manage stress, click below on the link below next the picture with people lying down.

Also, I'd like to invite you practice sourcing your own magic with two really cool offerings. 

First, I'm teaming up with the inimitable Nan Seymour for our Dream and Writeworkshop happening THIS Sunday, November 20 at the Snowbird Cliff Spa. At this unique, not-to-be-missed event, we'll practice sourcing that magic within ourselves in the form of yoga and Yoga Nidra. Then, Nan will lead us through some brilliant writing exercises to help find a voice to that magic. You're guaranteed to come away feeling relaxed, nourished in heart, and aware of the magic within you. 

Plus, your tuition gets you access to the world-class Cliff Spa, so bring your bestie and come prepared to luxuriate in the roof-top hot tub, salt water pool, or sit in the steam room or enjoy the quiet of the solarium. 

We've filled up the afternoon session and have opened up a morning session from 9 am to 12 pm. There are only 20 spots and they are going fast. Please register today to reserve your spot. 

This incredible workshop PLUS spa access for only $49. 

Second, starting this week, I'm starting a Yoga Nidra class on Wednesday nights at 21st Yoga (formerly Fallout) from 6-7 pm. Come and enjoy a class of gentle movement, a brief discussion about the practice, and then a long, decadent Yoga Nidra practice. Use your regular class pass or buy a drop-in. 

Hey, you have gifts and the world needs your gifts. Learn to practice sourcing the magic within you so that you can effectively share your incredible gifts with the world. 

Have a wonderful week, everyone.

Scott

Taming the Dragon

Take a deep breath . . . 

No matter how you tended to voted, this presidential election most likely invoked some spike in emotions and possibly a chance to practice running through your repertoire of your favorite 4-letter words.

Yesterday, before the election results came in, I happened to be listening to a record made by some of my favorite jazz artists, Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana. The title track, Taming The Dragon, is a musical dream sequence narrated by Brad Mehldau where he explains a dream of his in which he's riding shotgun next to a character mash-up of Joe Walsh and Dennis Hopper, driving down the PCH.

In the dream, some dude driving a sports car cuts them off in traffic and the Brad Mehldau character in the dream gets all bent outta shape and asks his driver if he's going to go and start some $h!t with that guy. Instead of getting bent, the driver just looks straight forward and explains to the Brad Mehldau character that whatever actions you send out into the world have consequences, that includes words too. The driver doesn't get mad. He just keeps driving.

Brad Mehldau analyzes his own dream as he  wakes up and surmises that all the characters in the dream are parts of himself and muses that while at first the driver character seemed like a party guy and a rebel, he was but only in an extremely noble way--rebelliously NOT reacting to the situation. The driver represented the part of himself who didn't have to get bent by events.

Brad continues with the notion that, and this is the important part at least for me, the pissed-off part of himself was like a dragon and with the dragon you're not supposed to conquer it, but rather tame it so that you can learn to use its immense power to tap your more noble self into the drivers seat.

For the last month or so I've been testy and irritable more than I (or my wife) appreciate(s). I'm sure my testiness is a combination of many things including the myriad emotions resulting from the loss of my sister to a motorcycle accident a few months ago, moving both my home as well as yoga studio home a couple of times, this insane presidential election, and maybe more. I don't really identify as grumpy or ill-tempered but "there is" grumpiness. It had come for a visit and that's just what was. 

So, I decided to cleanse. I cleaned up my diet. I'm getting more sleep. As part of that, I'm even more selective about what music I listen to and what books I read (Brad Mehldau is most certainly still in my rotation). All forms of consumption were shifted to what would serve my best Self. 

Then, listening to this track helped me to become aware of the profound idea that my dragon is whatever energy I'm feeling as the result of all the aforementioned events in my life. Instead of trying to kill the dragon or just put him to sleep so I can get on with being what I think of as a nice guy, I get to learn to somehow harness that energy and allow it act like a battery that will fuel me to drive toward those things I care about. 

One week into my cleanse and I feel much, much better. I feel lighter in body, mind, and heart. Seneca says that my countenance is clearer and I'm much more pleasant to be around. Yet, I'm choosing to keep the energy that arose from my previous angst, especially that of the election, to drive me forward creatively toward those ideas and projects that move me. It would be a waste to let this die. 

This recent angsty energy has fueled some really creative ideas including some great yoga projects, retreats, and classes. One of those ideas was a meditation that might help you to also transform the energy from anxt to action toward whatever realms you care about.

As a teaser, get ready for not one but TWO international retreats next year to Mexico and Spain, a Yoga Nidra class starting at our new 21st and 21st location starting NEXT WEDNESDAY 6-7 pm, and my Yoga Nidra: Sourcing Your True Power online course starting next year. Plus, I've got two or three other amazing opportunities that are hatching in my brain that are too new to even articulate.

This election has made me think very hard about some issues I really care about. It took parading these issues through the rhetoric of this election for me to understand how important they are to me. It's caused me to use the energy of my dragon to resolve to go out and get active with those issues instead of just complaining about them.

This dragon has some damn good ideas! 

One of the ideas I came up with was a meditation I'd love for you to try it. It's a meditation where you get to lie down, get relaxed, feel centered and grounded, then go on a mental journey deep into your belief center and tap into your current feelings about the election while remembering those issues, values, and principles that move you. Then the meditation directs you to use that energy as fuel, like a battery to insert yourself proactively into the world.

Whatever your emotions after the election, use that feeling as your dragon that you may learn to tame and whose mojo you can source to drive you forward toward those issues you care about, be it social justice, integrity, economic or political principles, or whatever. 

Don't just post another snarky comment on social media. Get off your duff and use that energy to get involved in something you care about. Do it today while that energy is raging. Volunteer, educate yourself (or others), donate, contribute, build, and create. Do it. 

Respond rather than react to those incendiary emotions. 

Tame the dragon. 

Hear the track I was listening to

Living Your Philosophy: Yamas and Niyamas

This week we are going to focus on the internal and external guiding principles of yoga’s philosophy, the yamas and the niyamas.

As described in the in The Heart of Yoga, the yamas and niyamas are the ways in which we practice yoga as per our intentions toward others and our behavior to those around us, including our environment.

The Yoga Sutras, written by yoga scholar Patanjali around 200 AD, describes the pathway to experience Samadhi, or a feeling at one with all things, the end goal of yoga. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes the 8-limbed path of yoga, 8 different ways we practice working toward Samadhi. It’s important to understand the 8 limbs of yoga are not to be practiced sequentially. Rather, they are explained in the Yoga Sutras listed from gross to subtle and practiced all at once. They are simply listed in the order from gross to subtle.

The first two limbs on our journey toward Samadhi are Yamas and Niyamas. These are considered the most gross because they are ways of practicing how we are in relationship to ourselves and others.

The Yamas refer to our relationship with others. The following is a list of the Yamas:

Ahimsa: Nonharming. I believe that non-harming is the first observance because if you are still operating under the illusion that another person is fundamentally different than yourself, that belief acts as the non-starter to the other practices. First, do your best to not harm another being. The lower law of Ahimsa is not to harm but what Ahimsa truly refers to is the ability to not only see others as the same divine expression as yourself, but to treat that other person with the divine dignity they (and you) deserve. Ahimsa not only admonishes non-harming, but it’s higher law invites us to not hate another person either. Therefore, the true law of Ahimsa is pure love. I believe that this is what predicates all the other yamas, niyamas (and all the other limbs of yoga, therefore) because if you understand the connection of all things and can express the divine presence of love, then all the other principles become readily understood and practiced.

To truly understand and be in complete love, shoots you directly Samadhi, like a secret passageway to the end of the race.

Satya: Truthfulness. Sometimes it’s hard to speak the truth but truth is fundamentally bound to your identity of your being. Satya invites us to consider our words and actions by how they might harm another. Never use Satya as a way of causing harm. Sometimes the truth hurts but Satya and Ahimsa invite us to practice truth in a way that doesn’t harm another.

Asteya: Non-stealing. Like it states in the Gayatri Mantra, as mentioned in Week 3 of Deepen Your Practice, if I truly understood the unity of all things, I would have the thing that I’m searching for. So, it truly doesn’t make sense to steal something from someone else if I understand that I am stealing from my own expanded identity of Self.

Brahmacarya: Right Relationship. The word Brahma means truth and carya is the same root as car, the vehicle that drives you. So, Brahmacarya is all about driving to truth, specifically holding relationships that keep you driving toward your highest self. If the only thing you have in common with a friend that you both hate so-and-so, then that’s not a relationship that is rooted in your own fundamental goodness. Sometimes this yama refers to only holding sexual relationships in the light of how that action drives us to understand our own divine potential. As you might imagine, this is an often hotly debated (no pun intended) topic.

Aparigraha: Not taking advantage. The basic message is to avoid opportunities to take advantage of the situation. Don’t exploit another person for your own advantage.

Next in the realm of practicing understanding ourselves through the practice of yoga is moving more from the outward realms of the yamas to the subtler and inner realm of the niyamas.

The following is a list of the niyamas, the attitudes that we hold within ourselves:

Sauca: Cleanliness. The principle of Sauca (pronounced sow-cha) is about keeping your body, mind, and spirit, clean. I believe this refers to keeping your space around you clean, as well as keeping your body pure with good food and nutrition. Within Sauca, is the invitation to also keep our mind pure by not harboring thoughts or fantasies that would cloud us from always moving toward our highest nature of being.

Samtosa: Contentment. Being content is a spiritual practice. The false notion that the grass is always a greener can be a cancer that will our ability to be present with what we have here. I like to practice contentment by appreciating those things which I find immediately in my environment; I like to go to the little library near my house rather than the big library down town because I like to practice celebrating what I have in my back yard. I like to patron the restaurants in my neighborhood and make friends with the owners because I believe in local business and would prefer to support my neighbors rather than a chain restaurant. This is one of the ways that I practice contentment. Once, while in savasana, a voice came into my head, my own voice, but maybe the wiser part of me. It said, “ What if this was all there was? Can you be happy with the way that life is right now, rather than waiting for what might lie over the next horizon?

Tapas: The heat necessary for transformation. Any growth, be it physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, financial, career, or anything else, is going to experience a little bit of friction. This friction is tapas. I like the analogy of a kiln: you can shape the wet clay all you want but when you put the clay into the kiln and through the heat, your clay vase comes out the other end unalterably changed to be the capable vessel it was designed for. Understanding this heat for transformation process gives us perspective for the challenges we face in life. Another example that I’d like to thread through this and the following two niyamas is running. I love to run. When starting to run after a season off, I will expect to experience a little of the friction of working my muscles into shape as well as sometimes even fighting the desire to stay at home curled up with some Netflix instead of the effort of going out and hitting the trail.

Svadhyaya: Self-knowledge. Tapas invariably leads to a deeper understanding of Self. There are many ways to practice this principle but using the example above, if I were to go through the challenge of running, I’d learn quite a bit about myself, including how my body moves, where my appropriate levels of exertion lie, and even what my character looks like when faced with a challenge. Like graduating from one high school and then onto college, so too does this self-knowledge qualify me to experience a deeper level of learning in the form of tapas. This tapas leads to greater self-knowledge, deeper tapas, deeper self-knowledge, etc. Until finally, this process is superseded by the last and ultimate, the inner-most principle, Isvarapranidhana, which means to lay it down at the feet of God.

Isvarapranidhana: To lay it down at the feet of God or to see all of your actions with a divine perspective. If using the running example, I maintain my cycle of tapas and self-knowledge knowing that somehow this experience of running is the simple tool that is helping me to understand my own divinity. That tool could be yoga, family, art, science, whatever. The perspective of what all of our work is leading us toward is at the heart of this niyama.

I’ve created a myth that illustrates these last three niyamas, the most important in my opinion, in a way that think is fun and interesting. Please stream or download if you like a good story.

I'll have that uploaded on my Deepen Your Practice page in a day or so. Check back in to hear this fun story.

Resources:

In addition to the book that we are reading from with my current Deepen Your Practice course, The Heart of Yoga, another great book to have in your yoga library is Bringing Yoga to Life by Donna Farhi. In it she takes principles like the yamas and the niyamas and applies them to every-day situations that I feel really makes these principles come alive in a modern context. Not only is Donna Farhi an amazing teacher, but she’s also a great writer.

If you want to learn about the yamas and niyamas straight from the source, check out Desikachar’s translation of the Yoga Sutras in the back of The Heart of Yoga. One of Desikachar’s gifts is his economy of words to distill the meaning of this ancient and important text without confounding it with verbose and labored explanations.

Mantra Mag Q&A

Incase it's hard to read, here's the text version of the feature:

Q:  What's something that you've struggled with and what helped you overcome it? 

Perhaps my largest struggle in my life has been feeling hamstrung by self-limiting beliefs. The single most effective remedy for me to conquer self-limiting beliefs has been to regularly practice Yoga Nidra. If you’ve never done it, it’s like a very specialized guided meditation. I’ve used Yoga Nidra as an immensely powerful tool to help me recognize my True Nature, in part by seeing beliefs as changeable and therefore reprograming self-limiting beliefs into self-empowering beliefs. Through Yoga Nidra I’ve been able to embed different beliefs that are more in line with my True Nature.

 

Q: What's something that is essential to your healthy routine? Anything you swear by?? 

Something I find essential to my healthy routine is the no-stress approach to physical movement. I love to practice yoga and to do triathlons. Whether it’s advanced asana or cresting the hill on a long trail run, I’ve found that by maintaining a keen awareness of my body and not pushing it past a comfortable intensity, I have few or no injuries, I have developed power and speed (speed for swimming/biking/running), and when I finish my practice or workout, I have more energy than when I started. I feel like the “no pain, no gain” mantra is a product of an age that celebrated mind over matter. Yoga has helped me to embrace our Information Age where through practice understanding the body/mind/spirit I gain more by practicing mindfulness with matter. I listen to the information that my body gives me and work with my body instead of against it. The no-stress approach to movement has been essential to my growth.  

 

Q: How did pick yourself up in one of your lowest moments?  

A few years ago, after a long and arduous struggle, I was forced to close TWO yoga studios. It had taken me years to build and develop these businesses and by the time I closed my doors, my blood pressure was through the roof, I was emotionally and financially devastated, and I felt ashamed to have let all of my students and staff down. During this incredibly challenging time, I began a landscaping project at my house and found myself saved by the unlikely healing power of pulling weeds. There was something about connecting with the earth, being left to my own thoughts, and seeing the satisfying results of a hard day of hard work in the form of a beautifully clear patch of soil. I began to work through the problems of closing the studios like I did pulling weeds: I didn’t worry about the entire project all at once but simply focused on accomplishing the finite task of what lay immediately at my fingertips. This landscaping project pulled the weeds of worry, stress, and heartache from my soul. And in time, this provided the fertile soil for me to plant something new in the form of new projects including my website: scottmooreyoga.com.

The Things that Scare You

 What if this week you practiced being with those things that scare you? Call on the spirit of Virabadra, the warrior, to practice strength and focus, call on Tadasana, Mountain Pose, to practice being steady and strong and unmovable, call on Dhanurasana, bow pose, to at once shoot the sacred arrows designed to strike the demons of fear that plague your heart and at the same time keep that heart wide and open. 

 
This week, I invite you to step up to the edge, call on your higher self, and take the leap. Only you know the fears which creep in your heart. This week, practice inviting your fears to the surface to find the power you know is there somewhere and remind yourself of the part of you that is beyond fear. This week, come to yoga with the intention of addressing your fears. Come ready to walk away with greater strength in body and heart. Come ready to find the strength to abide with those things that scare you.

Scott   

I Go Among Trees and Sit Still.
 
I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.
 
Wendell berry