California Love

Sen and I have spent most of our lives living in Utah. In 2017, we were looking for something new. We wanted a challenge.

Right about April of 2017, Sen was offered a job to work in NYC. That seemed to fit the bill perfectly for a challenge and the we decided to move, despite the fact that we’d just moved into a new house (new for us, and the first one we’d bought together), we decided to say goodbye to Salt Lake City and head east.

This decision was very deliberate. I mean, I would be giving up my 15-year career teaching yoga in Salt Lake City, a place where I’ve been rewarded with scores of friends, loyal clients, and more teaching opportunities than I can accept. Regardless, I was hungry to know if what I did in Salt Lake City could translate to New York.

It did. But it was more complicated than that . . .

NYC was much more challenging than we thought. After about 9 months, Seneca was starting to wonder if we’d made the right decision. I’m the kinda guy who will stick out even a bad sitch long enough to play it all the way out to the end, for better or worse. I wanted to stick it out for a while, mostly because I was just starting to get some traction in the yoga world.

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One of the studios I practiced at and audition for was Kula. Their commitment to a solid yoga practice with good, smart alignment added to a solid structure but dedicated to fun, creative sequencing was perfect for my personal style of practice and teaching. I particularly loved going to Nikki Vilella’s classes. She offered a no-bullshit, solid class that showcased her expert teaching, great assists, but without any showboating or diva vibes.

I asked to if I could possible get onto their sub list. Nikki arranged an audition for me and after gave me some really solid feedback. I’ve been teaching for so many years, and even giving feedback to other teachers regularly with my Teacher Mentor Program but it had been a while since I’d received good feedback about my own teaching from someone who is an expert teacher. Nikki said that while I was a great teacher, that my assists were very strong, but that I simply needed to learn the “Kula Way.” She suggested that I take the 30-hour “Kula Way” training they offer periodically, simply to understand the branded way in which the studio likes to their teachers to format classes.

Not long after this I went to Costa Rica for a retreat and had an incredible revelation that if NYC wasn’t happening for my woman, it just wasn’t happening. Don’t get so attached to NYC and try something new. I’d have to put the Kula training on hold.

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Wanderlust Hollywood Matt Phippen.jpg

Once we decided that New York wasn’t the right fit for us, we took a trip to L.A. Seneca spent a good part of her childhood in L. A. and has always considered herself a Californian at heart. We found that L. A. really fit us well—it seemed exciting and available to us. As per Nikki’s suggestion I found the sister-studio to Kula called Wanderlust in Hollywood and fell in love with it, not surprisingly because it was opened with, Schuyler Grant, the woman who opened Kula. I took class from Matt Phippen who was again right up my alley. I introduced myself to him and said there’s a good chance I’d be coming to L. A. He suggested I do the Wanderlust equivalent to the “Kula Way” training, a 75-hour, week-long training that shows how it’s done at Wanderlust.

So we liked L. A. And especially due to the fact that Seneca’s job dried up, the purpose for us moving to NYC in the first place, and that it’s just SOOOOOOO damn expensive there, we decided to forgo the obligatory 2 years of ass-kicking by “the system,” the NYC hazing period, and just move to L. A. And why not stop off in Salt Lake City for a while to have a summer with family, to reconnect to my old studio, and to offer some classes, workshops, and retreats.

Well after a great summer in Salt Lake City, we made the move. While in SLC, people would ask me repeatedly, “Now why are you moving to L. A.?” and when I told them simply because it’s on our adventure map, they would simply stare at me blankly. That’s fine, I don’t need people to understand my life for it to make sense to me.

I decided to take the Wanderlust training and was frankly thrilled to be doing a training again as a student instead of the teacher. I was hungry to get more of that fantastic feedback like I received from Nikki at Kula. I was eager to change things up and learn instead of teach— to sharpen the axe. And I knew that I wanted to do this as Wanderlust.

Plus, one great way to teach at a studio you like is to show up and pick up what they are puttin’ down. If it so happens that I can get onto the sub list at Wanderlust and someday be on the schedule, I’d be thrilled. But it’s good enough just to be learning the stuff.

So, with the training in mind, we moved to L. A., rented and Air B&B, and drove out.

The training started today and I’m so thrilled to be doing it. It’s exactly what I was hoping for and more. I’ll tell you more about the training tomorrow!



I Know The Truth

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There was a derelict shed behind the forgotten house where my grandfather kept his old tractor which used to plow an acre-size garden, his pride and joy and his reason for living, 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. It smelled of rotting time, deceased decades, the bones of an age I never knew.

I remember seeing the rotting timbers which held the place together, the collection of rusted Utah license plates hanging on the wall, and a blunt chopping stump with an axe embedded permanently within, an agricultural Excalibur.

Against one wall was a sloping pile of silky-black coal, chunks the size of misshapen grapefruits, fossils revealing a forgotten time when people heated house and hearth by shoveling these bulky blocks into furnaces. As my great-grandparents died, so did their need for coal and this pile of forgotten fuel stood as a mute reminder of the invariability death.

I know the truth

Mostly, I remember sitting on top of that old 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 and gas and pedals with my short, child's legs and handling the stick. The top of the gear shifter was decorated with a black skull.

Now, the message of it tells me that we are all dust. “Go ahead,” it seemed to whisper. “Plant, sow, till. But one day you too will be planted in this earth and that is the simple, hard truth, a truth as rigid as the axe embedded into the stump, and as true as there is soil to plant in."

Decades later, many of my own years buried, the shed has now probably been razed. Today, I'm increasingly aware of my own mortality as I see family members and loved ones, one by one, young and old, whose harvest times have arrived and are themselves planted in the earth.

And so 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 Maria Tsvetaeva speaks to this perfectly when she says in her poem, I Know The Truth:


I know the truth – give up all other truths!

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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 Tsvetaeva 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 a bigger truth, even beyond the threat of her own death, that we are all human, 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

Scott Moore Yoga

What does it mean to be human and how do we truly appreciate another day in the sun?


Both poetry and poses are a chance to practice being human. Through them, we practice the vicissitudes of living, the ups and downs, the tension release, the struggles and joys. Perhaps mostly we practice cultivating 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.






Why I Wake Early

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Sun Salutations

I awake today and sit enjoying the silence of a beautiful morning. Even as I sit, I'm watching the bright morning sun dance its procession around my front room. It is playing with the crystal hung in my eastern window and splattering rainbow prisms across each wall.

Even as I look, the color changes and fades, showing me that the earth is revolving around this sun. Things are changing. As I look out the window the sun is celebrating these early autumn trees with its light, making the yellow leaves explode with color against a cloudless and pale-blue sky. I see a small bird sitting in a shadow who decides to leap up higher and rest in the bright sun's warmth. And then it begins to sing.

Aren't we all like this bird, eager for the creature comforts of warmth on our skin, eager to leave the shadows for the sun and the opportunity to feel life pulsing through our veins, eager to feel how we may reflect that same brightness and joy through our song?

And perhaps this is why in yoga we practice celebrating the sun with Surya Namaskar, or sun salutations. Surya means "sun" and Namaskar means "a deep honoring." You might notice the same root word Namas as the base of the word Namaste, another Sanskrit word meaning to honor the True Nature or heart of hearts, the most sacred element and potential of another. Surya Namaskar is like offering a Namaste to our source, the sun, as it brings life to us and everything on this planet and we're dependent on it for all aspects of our well-being. Sun salutations are also a physical practice, a ritual, for acknowledging and honoring anything else you feel is your source (God, Creation, the Universe, Buddha nature, or whatever). But just as important, this practice reveals that we are part of that source and reflect a bit of that same light within ourselves. By acknowledging this similarity between ourselves and our source we empower ourselves with the memory of our True Nature. We are not dark creatures in a dark world, and where there is shadow, we can choose to leave it for the sun or shine light into it. We are beings of light, filled with life and love. And we are here to celebrate that, to learn from it, and to shine our light everywhere.

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Uinta Mountain Yoga Retreat October 5–7, 2018

Mary Oliver says in her poem Why I Wake Early:

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety -

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light -
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

Please join me this week as we practice Surya Namaskar and other poses to remind ourselves of this bigger picture. We show gratitude, rekindle our fire, and celebrate our own light.

Scott

Yoga Hawaii.jpeg

Women Protecting Women Online

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I’ve been getting my hair cut from the same woman for something like 25 years. It had been a while since I’d had a cut and recently while she was snipping away at my curls, I asked her if she were dating anyone. She proceeded to tell me a story of the horrors of online dating, specifically the D-bags she was encountering through the online dating world, actions that amount to nothing less than abuse.

Best Yoga Blogs

A while ago, even before the #MeToo Movement, I wrote an article entitled, “What It Means to Be A Man.” I wrote this article because I felt that one of the most important lessons of yoga is to find balance. Despite many advancements in our social culture, there’s still a stark inequality between the rights and abuses of men and women. As a man, I see the need for men to have better role models, better ideals for women and humanity as a whole, and a better and more complete concept of Self, one that is in alignment with the balance of the Universe.

Recently, I was made aware of a great article entitled, “The Empowering Internet Safety Guide for Women,” written by women for women that makes everyone aware of the abuses of women on the internet and gives helpful and actionable steps to protect one’s self from these abuses. It tackles everything from harassment on social media, namely Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat, to harassment at work, online dating sexual harassment and more.

I’m including a bit of the article below and hope you’ll click to read the rest of it. I’m an advocate for all people’s equality, including and especially equality for women. Please pass this along. I feel it’s crucial information for today.


Namaste



The Empowering Internet Safety Guide for Women

Have you ever been harassed in the street? Received a crass message on a dating app? Had a coworker make a comment about your appearance that just didn’t sit right?

You’re not alone.

With the #MeToo movement, it’s easy to log onto Twitter or Facebook and see just how many women are victims of sexual harassment. Whether in person or online, women everywhere have experienced it in one way or another. And with all the new ways the internet has opened avenues of communication, online harassment is more prevalent than ever.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, most online abuse takes place on social media. Although men are also subject to online harassment – which includes name calling, derision, and physical threats – the study found that online, women are more than twice as likely as men to experience sexual harassment.

In addition, more than half of women ages 18-29 report having been sent sexually explicit images without their consent.

This number is only growing, and while 70% of women believe online harassment to be a major problem, not many know how to prevent it.

Women are often targeted simply because they are women. Attacks are often sexualized or misogynistic, and rhetoric tends to focus on their bodies and sexual violence. This is both physically and emotionally damaging, and women are often intimidated into silence, preferring to disengage rather than put themselves at risk.

However, there are ways we can protect ourselves.

This guide was written with the intention of empowering women to navigate the internet without fear. We discuss common occurrences in which women are subject to harassment in their daily lives – on social media, at work, while dating, and more – and give tips and advice on how women can take control.

It is important for us to note that some of the advice given here encourages anonymity, rather than risking being targeted. While this may seem to run counter to the idea of encouraging self-expression, we believe that every woman should be empowered to make that choice for herself.

Our job is to give you the tools you need to do that.

We hope this guide encourages women everywhere to defend and protect themselves, and to stand up to sexual harassment, both on and off the web.

Continue reading . . .

Please share.


20-Hr. Yoga Nidra Immersion

Online or in-person. September 28–30 2018

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Valuing Perplexity

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Yoga Nidra Training

We all have problems. We all grapple with the unknown, about the big things like the origin of the Universe, sure, but more specifically about our own complicated life. We all want to solve our problems as quickly and painlessly as possible.


But sometimes it is only by questioning or struggling that we are driven to earnestly understand an otherwise hidden part of ourselves. Sometimes it is working through our struggles that we truly come to understand our full potential. Our questions fuel us to open our hearts, to seek for inspiration, to perform the necessary work, and more profoundly, to abandon our will to the grander wisdom of the Divine, whatever your concept of that is.

We must at once be willing to seek and do. What's most difficult is that we must also be willing to sit comfortably and simply be with what we don't know or understand. And sometimes to get real answers we must be willing to sit in our own darkness for a while.

This human tendency for control occurs regularly in our yoga practice as many of us strive to either know everything there is to know about yoga or try to perfect our poses.

Instead, let us practice this week the yoga principle of Santosha, or contentment, by learning to sit with and even value perplexity, to sit in the not knowing. There is a practice of allowing things to be just the way they are, perfect with our problems, as unseen forces that are working in mysterious ways to evolve your body, mind, and heart. 

The following poem by David Whyte seems to speak directly to learning from the not knowing and leaning into the darkness rather than running from it.

 

Sweet Darkness
by David Whyte
 

20-Hr. Yoga Nidra Training

Virtual or in-Person

September 28–30 2018

When your eyes are tired

the world is tired also.

 

When your vision has gone

no part of the world can find you.

 

Time to go into the dark

where the night has eyes

Meditation for Sleep

to recognize its own.

 

There you can be sure

you are not beyond love.

 

The dark will be your womb 

tonight.

 

The night will give you a horizon

further than you can see.

 

You must learn one thing.

The world was made to be free in.

 

Give up all the other worlds

except the one to which you belong.

 

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet

confinement of your aloneness

to learn

 

anything or anyone

that does not bring you alive

 

is too small for you.

The Formula for Success

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Before I declared English as my major in college, I took a few business classes. And even though I didn't stick with business, in those courses I learned some crucial lessons I'd use my entire life. Perhaps the most important thing I learned in all of my college courses was an formula for success, taught to me by one of my favorite professors,Norm Nemrow.

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Students clamored to get into Professor Nemrow's courses because he was passionate, fun, challenging and innovative. He was the sort of professor that could bring out the best in students and make them give their best because the students wanted to.

 

One day, Norm was looking around the auditorium at hundreds of young business students and said, something that would change my life. He said, “If you are here simply to learn how to make yourself rich then I would invite you to stand up and find your way out the door. You do not belong in this class. And that goes for being a doctor or lawyer or anything else. If you seek after a career just because you think you’ll be liked or seem more import because of it, then welcome to the beginning of misery. Instead, find a career based on something you love to do, even if it’s not the most lucrative profession because success revolves around this simple formula: Interest breeds excellence and excellence breeds opportunities.”

The Formula for Success

 

For me, more than mastering the use of gerunds and recognizing dangling modifiers like grammatical pariahs, this formula for success for success has been a polar star for me in my life.

 

If you wonder what an English major does as a profession, you're looking at it. I teach and write about yoga for living. Growing up, I worried that I'd always have to acquiesce to "the man" and punch a clock in some soulless enterprise, void of creativity, wellness, and personality.

 

But following Professor Nemrow's advice, while still in college, I became very interested in yoga, developed a level of excellence in the subject, and consequently have developed a fruitful career for myself, spanning more than 15 years, doing something I absolutely love, and with more opportunities than I can cash in on.

I suppose this is really what we are trying to learn in yoga, to learn to listen to our hearts and have the courage to organize our lives based on what we discover as our real priorities.

If you’ve ever been through a very challenging experience, gone through an injury or illness, had someone close to you die, even competed in a challenging race or something, you’ve probably had that experience where all the bullshit is burned away and what really matters in life is left gleaming like a seam of gold in the mountain.

 

Yoga can offer the same clarity, but through a presence that is practiced over time rather than a quick slap in the face (though if you’ve ever been to Hot Yoga your opinion might differ). Yoga can also give us the courage to help us direct our lives in the way that is meant for us.

 

May we all gain the clarity to see what really matters in our lives so that we might employ this same formula for success: interest breeds excellence and excellence breeds opportunities.

And may we have the courage to follow our dreams.

 

How you followed your dreams and found opportunities in the process? I'd love to hear your stories. Please leave a comment and share this post.

Namaste.

20-Hr. Yoga Nidra Immersion

Virtual or in person. Sept. 28–30

How To Meditate: A 30-Day Meditation Challenge

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How to Meditate.jpg

I love to teach yoga and meditation because I feel it's my calling to help people become the best versions of themselves so that they can go and bless the world in best ways they know how. 

The world needs people who are present, living their lives mindfully, and growing into their True Nature with a regular, dedicated meditation practice. The world needs YOU to be operating at your highest potential. 

Regular meditation is perhaps the most effective way to evolve into your highest self. Presence is the key to experiencing your birthright of magnificence. A group of meditators benefits the world in vast ways, bringing magnificence into the world like expanding ripples in a pond.
Some of the most common personal benefits of regular mediation are:

  • Spiritual awakening
  • Reduced stress
  • Greater focus
  • Understanding your purpose for the world
  • Greater compassion
  • Being less reactive more responsive
  • Greater happiness


Like any worthwhile endeavor, meditation takes practice. So let's do it together!

Join me in a meditation challenge, a group that will meditate every day for 30 days. This challenge will benefit you personally and will make the world a better place. 
 

The Challenge:

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You will meditate every day for 30 days for 15 minutes or more. That's it. With the support of the group, you will have the encouragement and connection to tap into the power that happens when a collective of people are meditating together. Even if you meditate at different times, the power of intention that connects us will empower you and enable your greatest benefit.  

If you are new to meditation, this is a perfect way to start a new life-long practice. You will receive in-depth explanations, teachings, and follow up to demystify the art and science of meditation, and establish yourself firmly in your practice. 

If you are an experienced meditator, this is also a perfect way to join this powerful collective to bring new heights to your practice and open new doors and awarenesses. 

While I will be sending out guided meditations, you can also choose any style of meditation you'd like. We will each be tracking our meditations every day using Insight Timer, a mobile app designed to help you time and track your meditations.

Once you register, you'll receive emails and resources to encourage you and support you along the way, including teachings and explanations about the why and how of meditation. Plus, you'll receive an invitation to some live group meditations via Zoom or in person depending on where you live. Live sessions will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah. You'll be able to see and comment to the others in our group who are also doing this 30-day challenge. 

This next 30 days will change your life as well as the lives of everyone around you! 

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Once you Register


Once you register, you'll receive a welcome email with information about:

  • Specifics of the challenge
  • Live meditations
  • Many forms of meditation you might choose to do
  • Downloading the app
  • Live group meditations, virtually via Zoom, an online meeting platform or in person
  • A catalogue of guided meditations, both my catalogue of recordings as well as literally thousands on Insight Timer, which you can keep to help support you on your medative journey.
  • Receiving supportive emails 

What does this cost?


I'm more interested in you succeeding and the world becoming more mindful than I am making money, so here's what I'm offering:
The 30-Day Meditation Challenge costs $30, so that you'll commit to it. And everyone who completes the challenge, meditates everyday using the app for 15 minutes or more, can opt to get a FULL refund of their tuition. No hassle. No questions. So, essentially this is free! My deepest desire is that I don't make a dime on this project!


I invite you to commit to your own wellbeing. I know you can do it and I'll support you every step of the way. Join me!

Register

Fill out the form and press submit, then click on the PayPal button.

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After the Fire

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Shiva Nataraj.jpg

I closed two yoga studios about 4 years ago. Running and closing those studios has been two of the most challenging things I've ever done.

It's really difficult to run a small business. I fought every day just to keep the doors open. Eventually, we had to close our doors; the studios weren’t sustainable. I wish I knew then what I know now about running a business. Ironically, I learned volumes about running a business by closing my business. One of the most important things I learned was how to rebuild my life when things don’t turn out the way you hoped they would.

At the time of my businesses closing, I wished there were a manual for how to rebuild your life after you’ve just suffered a massive blow. During that difficult time, I received some divine guidance during a meditation, instruction that seemed absolutely perfect for me in my life, like a manual to start to rebuild. 

Step 1. Put out any fires that are still burning.

Step 2. Practice forgiveness as the key to allow forward movement.

Step 3. Allow for new possibilities without the story of the past to jade the future.

In order to get some clear perspective, I had to get out of town for a few weeks to clear my head. I closed my studios and literally one week later got married to the love of my life. Yes, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

My wife and I went on a honeymoon to Europe coupled with me teaching a yoga retreat and getting out of town really helped me to gain perspective. I felt reinvented as I came home from Europe, ready to tackle some of the challenges that were still looming as the result of closing my studios.

The situation still felt raw, like was just coming to, sitting on a neighbor’s lawn, my face black with smoke and soot, my old house just burned down. And in a real way, many things about my old business were still smoldering and smoking but that old thing, that old life, old bachlorness, that old business, was razed. To. The. Ground. There was only one, exciting thing left to do and that is build a new life forward. And while this situation was scary, it feel freeing to look forward into the future. 

The Shivanataraj is the statue you often seen in a yoga context. It’s a depiction of the Dancing Shiva and represents the male/female creator of the universe in the dance of birth, sustaining, death, disillusion, and ultimate rebirth . . . over and over and over again. This statue teaches me that I’m involved in a process, one that will probably happen several times in my lifetime.

This understanding of moving in cycles made me feel better, like all of this was expected somehow. The Shivanataraj statue shows Shiva’s many arms and legs gesturing in the dance of all this continuous change while wreathed in flames. And despite all the craziness, despite the all the change, despite the fact that Shiva’s hair is on fire, Shiva’s gaze is calm, steady, forward. Shiva even has a calm little smile on his face like this is just another day in the burning universe.  

We are all somewhere in this process of birth, sustaining, death, disillusion, and rebirth. What are the things you need to do, need to avoid, need to plan for in this life that is burning in this moment.?

And finally, while our universe is spinning and we are all dancing around with our hair on fire, may we keep our steady gaze forward, centered in our most divine Self and the Divine, whatever form that may take for you.  

Here’s a poem I love that speaks to discovering the new chapter in your life.

The Layers

BY STANLEY KUNITZ

I have walked through many lives,

some of them my own,

Hawaii Yoga

and I am not who I was,

though some principle of being

abides, from which I struggle

not to stray.

When I look behind,

as I am compelled to look

before I can gather strength

to proceed on my journey,

I see the milestones dwindling

toward the horizon

and the slow fires trailing

from the abandoned camp-sites,

over which scavenger angels

wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe

out of my true affections,

and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled

to its feast of losses?

In a rising wind

the manic dust of my friends,

those who fell along the way,

bitterly stings my face.

Yet I turn, I turn,

exulting somewhat,

with my will intact to go

wherever I need to go,

and every stone on the road

precious to me.

In my darkest night,

when the moon was covered

and I roamed through wreckage,

a nimbus-clouded voice

directed me:

“Live in the layers,

not on the litter.”

Though I lack the art

to decipher it,

no doubt the next chapter

in my book of transformations

is already written.

I am not done with my changes.

Psyche and Eros: Knowing The Art of Love

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The story continues . . .  If you didn't read the first part of the story, click here.

Four Impossible Tasks

Psyche has had a tasted love and wants nothing more than to be back with Eros. Tragically, she finds herself exactly where she was previously— destitute on the bleak shores of the ocean. But this time it's different. This time she's willing to do whatever it takes to get back to Eros. No longer will she be passive and just allow things to happen for her.

As she is pleading to the gods for help, one god appears, Aphrodite, Eros' mother and says, "Okay, pretty thing. If you are serious about getting back to see my son again, you must accomplish four tasks." Psyche says that she is willing to do anything. And I don't know if you've really ever studied Greek gods but for most of them, benevolence isn't their thing. Aphrodite either wants to punish Psyche, watch her suffer or both. Or maybe Aphrodite can use this Psyche's energy in her desperate condition to get something she wants . . . from the underworld.

Sorting The Seeds of Love

 Photo cred: http://www.grethexis.com/eros-and-psyche/

Photo cred: http://www.grethexis.com/eros-and-psyche/

First, Aphrodite leads Psyche to a door and says that in this room is some seeds and that for her first task if she is to see Eros, she must sort this pile of different seeds into their respective piles and it must be done by morning time. She opens the door and in this room is an enormous pile of seeds taller than her. Aphrodite smugly closes the door and leaves Psyche to her task. Psyche wants nothing more than to be with Eros but this task is impossible. She desperately tries for a while to sort seeds the best she can but eventually she is overcome with grief and fatigue and falls into a deep sleep. During her sleep an army of ants comes in, sees the task at hand and organize themselves to meticulously and thoroughly sort all of the seeds so that in the morning time when Aphrodite throws open the door, much to both of their amazement, all of the seeds are sorted and organized. Psyche is mute in astonishment. Aphrodite isn't amused but merely points to the next task.

Fiery Fleece

Next, Aphrodite instructs Psyche that she must gather some of the golden fleece of some rams that live in a far-off field. Problem is, that these rams breath fire and will singe you to a crisp if the so much as lay eyes on you. Desperate to find her way back to Eros, Psyche makes her way to the field and is hiding in the reeds. She quickly realizes how impossible it will be to gather the fleece of these incendiary animals before she gets turned into a toasted marshmallow. And just before she turns back in defeat, she hears the wind blow through the reeds and whisper to her that if she waits until the sun sets and the rams retire, she can find the bushes near where the rams like to feed where much of their fleece has rubbed off and she can gather it without the threat of getting burnt to a crisp. This she does and again returns, the impossible task done much to the disappointment of Aphrodite.

 Styx Water

 Photo: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1442939&partId=1&people=112373&peoA=112373-2-60&page=1

Photo: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1442939&partId=1&people=112373&peoA=112373-2-60&page=1

Her third task is to gather a goblet of water from the river Styx. She arrives at the gates of the underworld and in strange fashion, the river is raging high above her in the air. There is no way she is going to be able to fill her goblet until an eagle comes down, grabs her cup in his talons, and flies up and fills the cup for her. Aphrodite? Unimpressed.

The Irresistible Lure of Beauty

Persephone's box.jpg

For Psyche's final and ultimate task, she must go all the way through the underworld and find the beautiful Persephone, who has a box with a special ointment that she must bring back to Aphrodite, ointment that will make her more beautiful than any other god. Psyche arrives at the river Styx, is once again overcome with how to even start this journey. As she is contemplating this impossible task of going all the way through hell with its obstacles, dangers, and depths, a tower speaks to her and gives her some crucial instructions. It says that she must first gather some money to pay the boatman to carry across the river Styx, that she must bring with her some sweet treats to give to the animals along the way so they don't eat her, and that no matter what, she must resist all requests made to her for help. The money and sweets aren't a big deal. She accomplishes this without a problem. What's hard for her is when she comes across a man whose donkey has dropped most of its load and who pleads for help. Next some women who look like her mother and grandmother plead for help with their task of weaving. This one hits hard because it is so much like home, remember this is what she did when she wasn't out dating like her friends? Lastly, a dying man pleads to her for help and she must resist trying to help even the dying man. At long last, she meets Persephone who gives her the box of the precious ointment.

It's done. Psyche has completed her tasks. All she needs to do is return the precious ointment to Aphrodite and she will win back her Eros. But instead of rushing straight to Aphrodite, she paused a moment and looked at the box and thought, "Why should Aphrodite get all this good stuff?" And so her curiosity got the best of her and she opened the box. As she opened the box she looked in and never had she seen anything so white, so glimmering, and attractive. Her hand reached uncontrollably into the box and touched the divine contents and because this was stuff meant only for the gods, her mortal body was overcome and she collapsed dead on the spot.

Love Returns

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Again, in Psyche's most desperate hour, the one and only Eros comes swooping down, sees the lifeless Psyche is pierced with love for her and in proper mythic fashion, bends down to give her the most divine, the most loving, the most beautiful kiss that has ever been. Maybe it was Divine Love's purpose (read Eros), maybe it was because Psyche had traveled all the way through hell for true love, or maybe it was the divine ointment in the box, but no sooner did their lips touch than did Psyche gain a rosiness back into her cheeks. Life started to flood back through her veins and soon her eyes fluttered open and she gazed upon her true love, Eros. But this time the gaze was different. To great astonishment, she realized that not only was alive again, but that she was seeing her one and only Eros without vanishing or being cast away, something very drastic had changed. Indeed she had been turned into a god herself and with this divine boon, she and Eros could forever live in love's bliss. At last, Psyche was reborn yet reborn into something much greater than she had ever imagined possible.

What Does This Myth Reveal about You?

The Oracle knew what she was doing when she sent Psyche out to die. The old part of her that wasn't her real, true self needed to die in order to finally become what was possible for her to be. She was more than someone who would marry the Frozen Greek Yogurt geek! She was worthy of the very Eros himself. At this point in the story, she abandons the passive realm of allowing things to simply happen for her and decides to make things happen for herself. Yet, despite her effort, she is met over and over again with impossible tasks. When you are ready to act, expect to be met with the impossible. But don't give up!

 

At first when she is faced with the task of sorting the seeds, she's overcome and falls asleep. Her part of her that was rational, the doer, became overloaded and she conked out. In her sleep, the ants come and did all the work. This represents allowing the tireless work of the subconscious, the dream world or image world to work its magic. And indeed many of life's problems can't be solved in the current rational mindset. We must open up to some unimagined creative force lying within us. This is a time to listen to our dreams, to pay attention to omens, to change our efforts from physical to the trust in the ethereal.

 

When Psyche goes and attempts to gather the golden fleece from the fire-breathing rams, she listens to the wisdom of nature for the most simple, and natural solution. This wasn't rocket science. It was good old, natural, common sense.

 

The eagle flying to fill her cup with water from the river Styx represents a messenger from the divine. Birds often represent that link between heaven and earth. Maybe we further our tasks by not only listening to our dreams and by listening to nature, but also find a mode to tap into our Divine nature through meditation, prayer, or scripture, in whatever form speaks to you.

 

Now, what about the tower? It's pretty strange that the human-made structure of a tower speaks to her and gives her such practical advice. Well, sometimes we need to rely on those things that are already built, already developed, that are solid real and practical. It could be we need to consult a therapist or medication, or do something like go to the unemployment office-whatever. Sometimes we need to use the help of the system or structure that is produced by human beings. The Tower gave some practical advice to Psyche like bringing money and treats to help the passage, but also it gave some difficult advice to avoid helping other people. In this instance, it was a time where she needed to use all her resources to help herself and not fall into that trap of putting others first. Her own ultimate evolution had to be her main concern. Sometimes we identify with being the helper when we need to be helped or just put all of our efforts toward our own rebirth. There is nothing wrong with this and to do otherwise is perhaps an offense to our greatest Divine purpose during times in our lives when we are called to give birth to this new self. And of course, sometimes, we have to go through hell in order to do so. But like in the end of this story we will find ourselves coming through the other side, not only reborn but reborn into a version of ourselves we never imagined with wisdom beyond our compression. Truly we will come to KNOW THYSELF.

 

Socrates is the father of western philosophy and is known by seeking wisdom through inquiring. This method of searching for knowledge by asking questions is known as the Socratic Method.

Socrates said that the one thing really worth knowing is the art of love. And just like Socrates, maybe, through understanding how myths like that of Psyche and Eros might apply to our own lives, we too might come to really KNOW, the the art of love.

How does your life play out like a Greek myth? Please comment below. And share this post! Thanks!

For these articles I drew upon a great book by William Bridges' called, Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes, particularly the Epilogue. For more information about this subject, I'd suggest reading it.

Guided Meditations for Sleep

Psyche and Eros: Greek Gods Who Are Dying to Live Part 1.

Psyche and Eros: Greek Gods

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Greek Gods

It is said that long, long ago, in mythic times, there was a woman named Psyche who was the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. She was a Greek God without knowing it. In fact, she was so beautiful that all the eligible men thought her out of their league so she never got asked out. Here's Psyche, the most gorgeous woman in the land, staying home on Saturday night and helping her mom weave instead of partying with her sisters and friends who were hanging with the fine fellas.

Time went on and Psyche's parents began to get worried, all of Psyche's friends were getting married and having families and here's Psyche, as beautiful and sweet and smart as could be but without anyone to share her life with. And it wasn't like she wasn't trying. She'd go out and try to strike up a conversation with the man down at the Frozen Greek Yogurt shop but he would always turn his head away, all bashful like, and eventually start talking to some of the lesser ladies. This happened time and time again much to Psyche's disappointment.

So, Psyche's parents decided to stage an intervention. They decided to go to the great Oracle at Delphi and ask her what to do about their oddly destitute daughter. And with clarity and wisdom, greater than Psyche's parents could understand at the moment, the Oracle told them that they were to take Psyche out to the bleak and craggy cliffs along the shore and leave here there to die. Perplexed and disturbed but faithful, Psyche's parents did just that.

 Photo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVMVEXd9WQk

Photo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVMVEXd9WQk

Revelations

Now Psyche, bewildered and forsaken, resigned herself to her fate as she lay on the rocks ready to die. She knew that nobody would ever love her and that the only fate for her was death. In this desperate condition, she fell asleep while waiting for the inevitable messenger of death and when she was sleeping, she was visited by a god, but not the one she was expecting. Instead the great god Eros came down and discovered her there distraught and ready to die. He fell in love with her upon first sight, as is want to happen with Greek gods, and asked his friend, the West Wind, to carry her to his palace.

 Photo cred: wallsave.com

Photo cred: wallsave.com

Psyche awoke in Eros's palace. It was dark and even in the shadows, she could sense its opulence and majesty. She didn't know where she was or how she got there. Assuming she had died, she was perplexed because this wasn't what she had understood the underworld was supposed to look like. Where was the river of Styx, where was that terrible underground path winding downward, where was Hades, the god of the underworld?

Soon a figure appeared in the darkness. Though Psyche could not see his face, as he spoke to her she could sense his gentle and kind nature. He explained that he was Eros, that he loved her, and that she was in his palace, and could live there the rest of her days. He told her that she could have whatever her desire fancied so long that she was never to see his face; therefore, he would only meet her in the darkness. Eros then vanished. Finally, her desires to be in love had miraculously been fulfilled.

And so during her days she was treated to scented baths, servants, delicious food and drink, private yoga classes, and anything else she could possibly want. Each night Eros would visit her. Sometimes they would make love, sometimes they would eat together, but they would always fall asleep together.

Disruption in Paradise

 Photo Cred: mythman.com

Photo Cred: mythman.com

However, each time Psyche awoke in the morning, Eros was never there. Psyche had never seen Eros's face, for that was the agreement. Well, Psyche became lonely and one night as Psyche and Eros were enjoying a little pillow talk, she asked him in the darkness if she could have her sisters visit her here in the palace. At first, Eros was adamantly opposed to the idea but he loved Psyche and wanted her to be happy so eventually he relented and allowed her to summon her sisters for a visit.

Psyche's sisters came and fell in love with the place. They loved the palace, the servants, and all the amenities.  Psyche's sisters were perplexed that she had never seen her lover, Eros. The more questions they asked about him the more she realized that she really didn't know much about him at all. "How can you be sure that he's not some monster, some beast who is holding you captive here in this place?" they asked.

This planted a gnawing seed of doubt and curiosity in Psyche's mind. So, later that night after her sisters left, and Eros came for his nightly visit, she lay there in the darkness and waited for Eros to fall asleep. She crept out of bed, grabbed a candle, lit it, and fisted a knife incase indeed he was a monster whereupon she planned to kill him. She crept back to where Eros lay sleeping and as the first ray of light shone upon Eros's face, a shockwave of astonishment sent surged through Psyche's entire body. Never had she seen anyone as beautiful as Eros. Surely he must be a god, she thought. She shivered as she looked at his beauty and the movement caused a drop of wax to drop from her candle and land on Eros's shoulder waking him. When he realized what she had done, he lamented that she had broken the rule and that as a mortal she was bound to leave the palace and never return. And in a flash the West Wind carried her back to that desolate craggy shore where Eros had first laid eyes upon her.

The story will be continued . . .

Life Lessons

So, like many of us, there were aspects of Psyche's life that didn't seem to be working well. That old life needed to face a sort of death in order for a rebirth to happen. It meant the end of her old life as she knew it. And though her new life with Eros was something new and exciting, it wasn't without sacrifices.

Often times when life isn't working, maybe it's an old relationship or job or belief system that doesn't bring us alive anymore, that old life has to suffer a death. In this myth, the Oracle represents our deep inner-wisdom that prevails over any conscious or rational thought. This wisdom can also be facilitated by a teacher or mentor who might be able to see clearly. The Oracle could also represent the mysterious circumstances of life that sometimes simply work themselves out in a way that end up being perfect for us in the long run.

And even though Psyche's new life seemed perfect in some ways, Psyche had the wisdom to betray the old, rigid beliefs, value systems and agreements, the dogma of her decision with Eros which kept her captive in a realm that she thought would make her happy but was itself a limiting paradigm. Something told Psyche that this wasn't the end of her evolution, that some bigger step needed to occur even though it probably wasn't a conscious decision. In this first part of the story there is little or no effort for any of these decisions, things simply happened and appeared for her.

What are the parts of your life that need to die? Old beliefs about place, self, work, family sometimes need to die in order to find a new version of ourselves. I don't know what I feel about reincarnation, but I certainly feel like I've lived several lives within this life. I'm someone very different than even five years ago. Can you resonate with that? What are the ways that your life seems to have changed? Have you experienced any sort of death re birth, maybe without very much effort on your part? What are the old agreements and beliefs you need to let go of in order to truly embrace this new life for yourself.

Join me next week as Psyche starts to make some very conscious decisions. . .

Scott

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Yoga: What I Learned Teaching in New York

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Yoga New York

Yoga Worries/Revelations

Pure Yoga New York

A year ago, I moved to New York City, having spent the previous 15 years successfully making my entire living teaching yoga in Salt Lake City. Honestly, I worried whether or not by moving to such a big town I'd drown in a sea of amazing yoga teachers and be forgotten and have to go and wait tables. 

Well, that didn't happen. On the contrary, I was able to land auditions and teaching gigs at some of the best yoga studios in New York and was completely delighted by my experience teaching yoga in New York. Even though my wife and I decided that New York isn't our forever place, my year there helped me to discover a few  essential things about teaching, things which I think you might be interested in. 

So, there are 8.5 million people in New York and it seems that every other person in New York is a yoga teacher. And while NYC has a lot of yoga teachers, I found that they aren't all good or very experienced teachers. And what I mean by a "good" teacher is one who is nuanced, ones who stands out, is original, and who has a lot of experience teaching anything other than a generic vinyasa flow class. 

Don't get me wrong, there were still a ton of extraordinary teachers in New York and one of the things that helped me stand out from other teachers and land some of those great teaching gigs was my ability to teach Yoga Nidra.
 

 

Standing Out

If you don’t know about Yoga Nidra, it’s a form of guided meditation that helps people reach profound levels of relaxation and awareness. It's very healing and illuminating. People love it because it's as profound as it is relaxing, anybody can do it, and people often get great mind-blowing results, from their very first session. 

Yoga Nidra is a bit of a niche practice but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how popular Yoga Nidra has become. Both in Salt Lake and New York, Yoga Nidra is always one of my greatest attended regular classes.

I’ve spent the last 10 years studying and teaching Yoga Nidra, and it's truly changed/revealed who I am  as a person and as a teacher. I hope you can tell how passionate I am about it. While receiving Yoga Nidra is relaxing and easy, teaching it can be very complex. I'd love to share my decade of experience teaching Yoga Nidra with you. 

 

Offerings

20-Hr. Yoga Nidra Immersion

Virtual or In-Person July 20–22 2018

While I’m in Salt Lake City for a few months, besides offering classes, privates, retreats, and trainings, I'm offering a 20-hr. Yoga Nidra Immersion (July 20–22). This Yoga Nidra immersion is a unique opportunity to learn about your own deep True Nature, as well as to learn how to teach Yoga Nidra, both to a group and in one-on-one sessions, which are conducted quite differently. You’ll get a certification with this training and it will count as continuing education hours with Yoga Alliance. Plus, you’ll be able to develop a skill that will immensely benefit your students, help you gain more students, and distinguish yourself from other yoga teachers, no matter where you teach. Yoga Nidra is also a great way to develop a robust online presence.

Besides teaching Yoga Nidra, New York taught me volumes about teaching in general and specifically my own teaching. I’m much more prepared to teach on a larger scale than before and I’m excited about new ways in which I’m growing as a teacher.

One thing I practiced and refined was how to get into some of the best yoga studios in the country. In my Yoga Teacher Mentor Program curriculum, I offer a proven strategy to get hired at the studio you want to teach at. It had been a while since I needed to "bust in" to a studio, and have never needed to audition to teach, but I followed my own strategy to get in and it worked like a charm. Of course I brought my best teaching to the audition, but with so many yoga teachers in NYC, even getting an audition is nearly impossible. My strategy to get hooked up with good studios even helped me to network with some of the best studios in the country outside of NYC, including making introductions to people who are running national yoga festivals

Even though not every NYC yoga teacher is fabulous, there are still plenty of really incredible teachers, many of whom I could learn from for the rest of my days. And there are enough great teachers in NYC such that I knew I had to bring my A-game to every class; there's no way I could phone it in.

Yoga Teacher Mentor Program

To ensure I was offering my best, I had to look at  many of the ways that my teaching had become stale or rote. Man, that's hard to do! As a teacher, I think it's hard to see the ways we've become stale because we think it's just the way we teach, or think that our way of teaching is a best practice of teaching. I was very fortunate to get some spot on feedback about my teaching from a nationally renowned teacher, feedback that helped me improve my teaching immensely. I began experimenting and tweeking small things about my teaching which made a big difference in the way my students received my teaching and what I felt of as my role as the teacher. 

If you are interested in really refining your practice of teaching, learning how to reach more students, or make a career from teaching yoga, I’d love to talk to you about my Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. This is a one-on-one mentorship where together, we develop a very personalized curriculum as we discover your talents and leverage them into helping you become an even more extraordinary teacher, making the kind of money you deserve. This mentor program pays for itself as new opportunities arise from the knowledge and experience you gain from this program. Plus, if you register for the Mentor Program, you’ll get the 20-hr. Yoga Nidra Immersion for free.

Wherever your life takes you, may you always teach yoga and may you always strive to bring your A-game. The world truly needs what only you have to offer. 

What are the ways in which you are growing as a teacher or know you need to grow as a teacher? Leave a comment!

Namaste,

Scott

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The Courage to Take Plan B

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Salt Lake City Yoga

It took a lot of courage to pick up our roots in Salt Lake City, leave the familiar, what we were good at and what was easy, to move across the country to New York and start over new with the hope of what was calling to us. I believe it took even more courage to acknowledge that the original plan wasn’t working out, and despite the fact that we don’t have a solid plan for what’s next, to move away from NYC because it’s the right thing to do.

Normally, I think that being in this position, not knowing exactly what’s coming next, would scare the shit out of me, but somehow I’m strangely calm and excited for the adventure of living in the not knowing. Seneca and I feel extremely lucky to be able to come back to SLC for a while as we are figuring out our next move.

We both realize that despite our short tenure in New York, there was no failure in moving away and that moving there a year ago was the right thing for us to do, just as it’s the right thing to move away now.

New York taught us both volumes about ourselves and what is important to us. Here are a few of the things that New York taught me . . . .

The biggest lesson, and most important by degrees of exponents, is how much I love Seneca, how important she is to me, and how lucky I am to have her as my partner in life. At first, I was attached to the idea of staying in New York but soon moved beyond that as I realized that what we needed as a couple and a family is a place where we could all thrive in body, mind, and spirit.

Next, I had a year of mostly teaching weekends and evenings and being at home with Elio during the days. It was great to be a dad. We tore up those Brooklyn playgrounds, I tell you what! We made great friends with our local bagel lady, Maria. Plus, Elio was so good at meeting new kids wherever we went. This year together was a special opportunity to deepen our bond.

New York taught me bundles about teaching yoga. I took classes from some truly incredible teachers who influenced me tremendously. I feel like I always try to bring my A-game whenever I teach; however, New York made me stretch in both bold and subtle ways. New York gave me a good look at all the ways I had become rote or at least perhaps too comfortable in my teaching and stretched me to expand who I am as a teacher.

There’s nothing like changing your environment and audience to refine your craft. New York yoga audiences can be hard to read and with such great yoga going on there, even harder to impress. I used this opportunity of being in a new town to experiment by consciously changing up many of my most common teaching practices, all the while still being Scott Moore (whoever that is). I consciously experimented changing a few critical teaching practices because I wanted to teach myself how to be more dynamic as a teacher and meet the needs of an even broader spectrum of people.

20. hr. Yoga Nidra Immersion

July 20–22 

Online or Virtual

One of my biggest worries moving from Salt Lake City to New York was whether or not my teaching would translate to a different, bigger audience. I mean, some of the best yoga teachers in the country work in New York. I remember one of my long-time yoga students graciously telling me upon leaving SLC to simply be myself and that students in NYC would appreciate it. That was a great bit of advice, one that I applied from the get go. I still told stories, used humor when it was appropriate, played my clarinet, etc.  

After one of my first yoga classes, a student approached me and told me that she thought I was a great teacher and refreshingly different than many NYC teachers, that I taught a great yoga class while not demonstrating too much self-importance. That meant a lot to me. And one of the things I learned in New York yoga studios was how to blend in even more into the background and let the yoga do the teaching rather than my personality.

Another thing I learned was the art of the hussle. New York is a big town with a lot of people and it felt like very few things there were fluid, easy, and streamlined. You had to be very patient, creative, and economical with your all of your tasks and time. I found I simply couldn't stack my day so tightly because NYC’s volume of people and its infrastructure makes impossible to do as much. In Utah, people can get in their car and go to Costco, Home Depot, and Ikea all in the same day and still have time to come home and clean the house before going out to an outdoor concert that evening. In New York, you’d see a guy on the subway with a roll of bubble wrap under his arm and a self-satisfied look on his face like he had really accomplished something important that day and was going to go home and celebrate by cracking a beer.

I also learned how fun and stimulating a big city can be. New York is a great town! I saw some great concerts, ate and drank at some incredible restaurants and bars, and loved just being in the city, walking those city streets, strolling the parks, and hoisting the stroller in and out of the subway stations.

I met some lovely, warm people in New York. I am very touched by all the regular students who frequented my class. Much like Salt Lake, New Yorkers are very dedicated to the teachers they like. It was certainly sad to leave them but hopefully we can stay connected through my blog, online courses, retreats, this newsletter, and hopefully frequent visits back with the promise of workshops and classes.

So as Seneca and I are back in Utah, while we figure out our next step, we are committed to staying connected to our hearts during this transition so that whatever decision we make for home and work is rooted in our heart rather than our head, or even worse, our fears. We are both giving ourselves more time for our meditation, yoga practice, journaling, visioning, and fun. Surely this is the recipe for creating the conditions to discern the direction for our family.

I’m so grateful for Salt Lake City’s warm welcome and the opportunity to teach classes at 21st Yoga as well as corporate gigs, privates, retreats, workshops, and immersions. I’ll keep my schedule updated on my website so you can see what’s coming up. If you live in Salt Lake City, I’d love to see you at class soon. If you don’t live in Salt Lake City, consider joining me for a retreat or join me virtually for the Yoga Nidra Immersion, July 20–22.

I know that I’m not the only person with questions about the future or who is in a state of transition. So, here’s to whatever’s next and resting in the unknown!

May we all have the courage to draw inward and open our eyes see our guiding stars in the universe of our hearts. And may we be quiet enough in mind and open enough in spirit to hear those soft and true words which will illuminate our paths.

What do you do to stay grounded during periods of transition? Please leave a comment below. 

Thanks!

PS

The following is a great article about Yoga for Men that I think you'd appreciate, whether or not you're a man. 

Hawaii Yoga

The Magic of Going with The Flow

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It’s been almost two weeks since I finished my yoga retreat along the Amalfi Coast in Italy, just enough time to come home, get settled a bit, and fly to Ireland to support my dear friend, Kim Dastrup on her retreat along the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

 

All the heavy work for the retreat happens the months prior to the retreat through bookings and emails and such but once we are all there, I can lean back and settle into that thing I truly love to do which is to teach yoga and meditation. There’s so much planning involved for every little detail of the experience. I really want everyone to feel nurtured for the entire event and provide the right conditions for them to touch that deep part of themselves that only yoga and meditation can. However, one thing I’ve had to develop is the skill in being able to learn to read the energy that is coming toward you and to go with the flow rather than trying to push the current. It was a lesson to learn to be spontaneous despite all of the planning and wanting to control things to be perfect. Somethings you simply can’t control and to try to do so will diminish the opportunity.

 

Every day on the retreat was excellent but one day was impossibly perfect mostly because of our ability to just go with the flow and accept everything that came our way.

 

Amalfi Coast yoga

We woke up for our early morning sun salutations, pranayama, and meditation session, had breakfast, and then did our mid-morning flow practice. I had a set plan for each practice but based on how people were moving, what everyone was feeling, I altered each practice despite my plans. For example, I intended for a long meditation in the morning practice but I could really feel the groups need to move. Still, I knew we’d be hiking later that day so I didn’t teach too many poses that cooked the legs.

 

After, our morning practice, we ate lunch then embarked on a hike for the afternoon with the possibility of a swim in the cerulean blue ocean of the Amalfi Coast.

 

Before we left for the hike, Franz, one of our Italian hosts, pulled me aside and quickly informed me that his cousin (he seems to have an entire country of cousins) was planning a “sunset concert and pizza party” and that it would cost about €15 per person but if we wanted to we could do that for dinner rather than having our regularly planned dinner at the retreat center. He gave me no other details.

 

This was certainly a deviation from our plan but something told me despite the relative lack of details, this was going to be really cool. So on a whim I made the executive decision that this is what we’d all do for the evening, despite the lack of details.

 

Amalfi Coast Yoga
Amalfi Coast Yoga

Molly, our other Italian host, left with us do drive a to where we would begin the hike. Again, we didn’t have all the details of the trip but knew it would be cool. People wondered how strenuous the hike would be, how deep the water would be, what the temperature would be, and honestly I didn’t know. Even with our host with us who had hiked this trail many times, we simply couldn’t plan for all the details of the rigor and temperature etc. but then again, nor could we plan  for or expect the stunning beauty we experienced along the way.

 

We parked the van and began our long hike which we learned was a pretty steep downhill. It finished up at a tower overlooking the ocean, something which looked straight out of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. To the side of the tower was a slightly sketchy path leading down to the ocean and some of our group decided that the hike was enough and hedged their bets and didn’t hike down to the ocean. For those of us who did, we found a 20-ft. cliff and further down a slight ledge from which to jump into the swelling, lapis currents of the ocean.

 

Each ocean has its own personality and this one was deep and blue and welcoming. Soon several of us were in the water and a lightness and gaiety took over the attitude of the group. People were laughing and jumping from the cliff. Even after a small jellyfish stung two of the swimmers there was a bit of hilarity examining the sting marks on one of the retreater’s butt.

 

After a good long swim, we got out, dried off, and made the ascent back up the hill. It felt much steeper on the way back, especially carrying my now sleeping toddler.

 

Panting, hot, and sweating (and some of us taking turns carrying a sleeping child) we crested the hill feeling exhilarated by the ocean and the hike. At the top of the hill, not far from where we had parked the vans, a few men, in typical Italian restaurant owner fashion, gestured for us to sit at an outdoor table, nothing more than a plastic folding table and some chairs, for a glass of water, limoncello, or beer. It took exactly no coercion for us to sit at their table and order their food and drink and we cooled off, laughing about the hike, the swim, and jellyfish.

Amalfi Coast Yoga
 
Amalfi Coast Yoga
Amalfi Coast Yoga
 
Amalfi Coast Yoga

Once we got home and showered up, we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon practice, with a much needed dose of Yoga Nida (guided guided meditation). Again, I’d planned a bit of movement for the afternoon practice but feeling the energy of the group, I kept it very chilled out and focused largely on the Yoga Nidra.

 

After practice we got dressed up for our sunset concert. I was expecting a garage band in noisy town square with pizza from a nearby mom ’n pops. But instead the van wound its way up the steep hills near Sorrento, latticed with vineyards and lemon orchards, only to stop at an majestic, private villa. We got out of the van and marveled at the stunning villa and walked its immaculate grounds overlooking the bay of Naples. The villa was hundreds of years old and restored to a stunning rustic elegance. We sat outside under a gazebo, sipping prosecco and watching the sun dip into the bay. Meanwhile my little guy instantly made friends with a few older Italian kids whose parents had brought them.

 

 

After a about a half an hour of settling in, happy to be resting our legs, sore from our hike, to our great pleasure, two musicians in tuxedos came out, took a graceful bow, and sat down and began effortlessly and flawlessly plucking away at the most sublime classical music for mandolin and guitar.

Amalfi Coast Yoga
Amalfi Coast Yoga

 

A collective smile spread across our faces as their music stirred our hearts, their perfectly harmonizing notes echoing off the hills. It all felt so perfect and impossible. After each song we erupted with applause and bursting with joy and happiness over the perfection of the moment.

 

After a few numbers, another man in a tuxedo came out and began singing Italian and Spanish opera selections with a powerful but smooth tenor’s bravato. Not only was the music enchanting, but the joy of the musicians as they played and sang that was positively contagious. After each number, we offered a genuine smiles gushing applause and the musicians beamed with smiles and laughter and the joy of it all.

 
Amalfi Coast Yoga
Amalfi Coast Yoga
Amalfi Coast Yoga
Amalfi Coast Yoga

Eventually, with the sun set and music done, we stood around and marveled at the surprise and beauty of such a fantastic evening. Soon, a beautiful old woman began bringing homemade pizzas from the kitchen, baked in its original wood burning oven. The pizzas were unbelievable and we all stood around sharing stories and laughing while night deepened.

 

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Periodically, I’d meet up with Elio who had spent the entire night thrilled at running around with his new buddies. At one moment, Elio took me by the hand and led me away from the party to the dark edge of the property, intent on showing me something very important. He led me by the hand to the dark edge of the spacious property and pointed into a grove of lemon trees lit up by hundreds of miniature shooting stars, the fairy-glow of fireflies. “Can you see the monster eyes, Papa?” Elio said in wonder.

 

 

New York Yoga Teacher

After the party wound down, we were still on a high and forced the van driver to stop off for some gelato in the nearby town next to the retreat center. We came home with our faces sore from smiling and laughing and marveling over the unforgettable day, everything from the yoga, the hiking and swimming, and then the unforgettable concert and party we had at the villa. None of it could have been expected or planned for. It all just happened and was beautiful and magical.

 

This experience clearly taught me how when you go with the flow rather than trying to control every aspect of every detail, you open yourself to things otherwise magical and unknown.

 

Tell me a story about when you were surprised by going with the flow.

Here's Why Working Out With Your Partner Can Benefit Your Relationship

by guest writer Esben Lukas

 Source: Unsplash

Source: Unsplash

Working out on your own can be rewarding in itself. But there may be a better way to enjoy sweating out toxins and building muscle like exercising with your significant other! Physical fitness will not only positively affect your overall health and well-being, but your relationships as well. In fact

Scott Moore Yoga previously tackled partner fitness activities and how they promote increased intimacy among couples. That being said, here are some of the other amazing benefits partner workouts can do for you.

1. Promotes support and motivation

Psychology Today notes that someone else's presence affects your ability to perform an activity for the better. Couples who workout together will naturally cheer each other on and encourage each other to reach their goals. Plus, you will start to be more accountable for your workouts. Having someone to lean on while you rough it out at the gym, yoga studio, or open field makes things more bearable and interesting. You can even create shared goals or workout routines so that you can execute some of the moves together! This type of camaraderie will transcend outside of your workouts and will develop a supportive type of relationship between the two of you in the long run.

2. Boosts overall self-confidence

It's normal for couples to feel insecure at some point during their relationship. Sometimes, this can stem from feeling like you lack something in the physical department. If that’s the case, there's no place like the gym to improve your body image and show off your moves. Plus, exercising releases endorphins, which are also known as 'happy hormones'. Endorphins play a certain role in a person's mood, making you feel more content, confident, and secure. If you and your partner feel good, there will be no reason to dwell on negative thoughts, resulting in a happier relationship and improved self-worth.

3. Guaranteed quality time

With all the work, errands, and personal commitments you both have to get done in your own time, working out together is guaranteed quality time for the two of you. Real Simple emphasizes that spending time together opens communication lines, which in turn strengthens your bond as a couple. Making it a point to always exercise together can also translate to prioritizing each other.

4. Increases emotional bond

Most likely, working out together will help you find your groove as a couple and allow you to experience doing something new together for fun as well. Watch as the other aspects of your romantic life get positively affected by couple workouts, too! Foxy Bingo explains how you and your partner can have fun outside the gym by doing activities such as giving each other a massage. Engaging in a shared activity will promote the feeling of being loved and trusted by your partner, and that you truly enjoy each other's company. Shared activities like these can also help make you feel more comfortable and open with each other.

Good relationships take time and work. By having a common anchor in the form of working out together, you are already exerting effort into improving your relationship.

Truth in 15 Words

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DSC_4766.jpg



Success isn't about fame or fortune. Success is only measured by happiness, awareness, and love.


Period.


(Drop the mic. Walk off stage)



How do YOU measure success?

 


 
 
Truth in 15 Words
 
 
 
 
 

How To Relieve Stress

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 Photo by David Newkirk

Photo by David Newkirk

learn how to relieve stress

Can I get real for a sec? 

I freak out sometimes. 

People often assume that because I teach yoga I never get stressed. I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. NYC has been great, it's been fun, and it's caused me to stretch and grow in ways I didn't know imaginable. But sometimes it feels like this town is kicking my ass.

Fortunately, I've got some tools. 

I've taught Yoga for Anxiety courses, not because I never get stressed, but because sometimes I freak out too and sometimes I use the tools yoga has taught me to help me manage stress. Don't get me wrong, I don't pretend to always have the answer for stress. Despite my experience with meditation, breathing techniques, and stress-relieving yoga poses, sometimes I still find myself self-medicating with Ben and Jerry's.
 
Here's what I do when I get stressed and I'd love to hear what helps you when you get stressed.

First, I take a bunch of fat sighs out my mouth, mostly when I'm driving or alone and can really let it fly without turning heads. I try to make it as dramatic as possible. I think this helps. This is a natural tension releasing technique that a lot of mammals use. Also, I'll try to relax my jaw and notice whether my stress lessens even by doing just a couple of sighs. Sometimes when I’m really worked up, I'll sigh for 5 minutes or so.

Next, I'll practice ujjayi breath, whisper breath. A lot of you know this but it's the breathing you use during yoga practice where you breathe in and out of your nostrils and put a little whisper in the back of your throat, elongating your breaths. It really helps. This form of breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, the opposite of your flight or flight nervous response. Try it, it's a miracle for stress.
 
Often when I feel stress, I will also do something physically active, like go to a yoga class, put on my running shoes and hit a trail, or even just take a 10 minute walk around the block, even if I don't have the time to do so. It's incredible how my perception changes when I get outside or at least get moving for a bit.

Wallace Stevens once wrote, "Sometimes the truth depends upon a walk around the lake."

Yoga explores the relationship between mind and body. If my body can relax, maybe my mind can follow. Putting some endorphins in my body and some oxygen in my brain is a great way to make me feel good and clear my mind.
 
Next, I'll actually look the bull straight into the eyes and see my stress for what it is. I'll try a meditation technique where I try to adopt the role as the observer rather than the one who is oppressed by stress. The other day, I felt like I was feeling a lot of stress and caught myself trying to avoid it or pretend it wasn't there. I had a few minutes to meditate and instead of mentally escaping it, I decided to look at it straight on. I closed my eyes and noticed how my body felt in response to the stress. I observed the images in my mind and emotions in my heart and thoughts in my brain, everything associated with this stress and tried to just observe it rather than fix it.

As I looked inside, this feeling inside me felt like a cold, metal vice along my chest. The more I looked at it, and just observed it, the more I realized that what I was feeling was more like protective armor than oppressive stress. It suddenly felt less like worry and more like my call to action to both do something about what was worrying me as well as practice self care.

Through my meditation, my observation, I was able to see this feeling for what it was instead of trying to avoid it and worry about the monster I felt was breathing down my neck.
 
Overall, I'm doing wonderful in NYC. These stress relieving techniques certainly help when ever I feel less than wonderful. I

can assure you I'll continue to use these techniques throughout my life. Maybe you can use some of these techniques if you find yourself freaking out. Try to do some breathing techniques, come to a yoga class, or try to meditate.

Of all these aforementioned techniques, I realize, too, that the only thing yoga class does not incorporate is the Ben and Jerry's therapy. Maybe after class we should go and get some ice cream and talk about our problems. 

What are the tools that help you work with stress?

I've built an entire learning module complete with stress relieving Yoga Nidra practice, breathing exercises, discussions, and additional recourses. It's built like my online courses. This is free awesome and totally free. 

Let me know how it goes!

Balance: Healing Body, Mind, and Spirit

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Be More With Less Giveaway

A few months ago, I was thrilled to receive an email from a friend and longtime student, Courtney Carver. She was in New York promoting her new book, Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More. She wanted to reach out to her NYC signing event because she said that I had played a significant role in the evolution of the book.

See, almost 15 years ago when I was living in Salt Lake City, I got a phone call from Courtney. She was interested in private yoga sessions because she needed help finding balance in her life. She was crazy-stressed, working a poisonous and impossibly demanding job, and felt maxed out in every facet of her life.

Her abrupt wake up call for a lifestyle change came when after repeated visits to the doctor to answer some nagging questions about why she just felt so “off,” she was diagnosed with MS. And from the moment of her diagnosis she was determined to make some drastic changes to her life.

Courtney and I started meeting for private yoga sessions at 5am a few times a week because that was the only time either of us could meet and it was important enough to make it work. Together, we developed a yoga program to support her “getting her life back,” as she put it, by energizing her body, freeing her mind, and healing her heart.

We didn’t have a lot of time and her MS dictated that each practice be distilled to its essence. It couldn’t be too hot or too intense, nor too cool or too easy. We calibrated each yoga practice using the foundational principles of sukham and sthiram, the balancing principle of ease and effort. As a result, Courtney didn’t get exhausted or sluggish during our yoga practices. By eliminating the excess and practicing balance, we created a sustainable, personal yoga practice that eventually produced magical results. Her health and vitality began to return, her mind felt clear, and she felt as though some deep healing was happening in her heart.

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Of course at the time I didn’t know that I was involved in the beginning of something extraordinary. This notion of eliminating excess and practicing balance soon stretched beyond her mat into the practice of her life. Courtney knew she needed to simplify her life to heal her body, mind, and heart and to find her real purpose for the world. But soon she discovered that simplifying her life was her purpose for the world.

Courtney eventually began a movement called Be More with Less. It’s message: simplify, simplify, simplify and discover how you come alive when you free yourself of the shackles of stress, the burden of an overly-demanding lifestyle, and the heaviness of owning too much stuff. Her movement took off and, all the while practicing balance, she has built an enormous audience with social media platforms, speaking engagements, a robust blog, podcasts, and most importantly her brilliant, new, and successful book, Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More. Have you heard of her Project 333? That's Courtney. Project 333 was featured in O,  The Oprah Magazine. Yeah, she's big time. 
 

The Be More with Less message mirrors something I believe, practice, and teach which is that mastery is about getting more by doing less. By learning and using yoga and mindfulness techniques of connecting body, mind, and spirit with movement, mindfulness, and breath, you avail yourself of a quality of being that is optimal to a point that is almost unimaginable. This quality of being is your birthright, the way your life is supposed to feel and comes not as the product of effort but only as the product of balance.

 Courtney Carver's Book Signing Event NYC Jan 15, 2018

Courtney Carver's Book Signing Event NYC Jan 15, 2018

Though MS is supposed to be degenerative, Courtney says that she feels more alive now than she did before she was diagnosed with MS. Finding balance was the crucial lesson that helped Courtney “get her life back,” one that she would eventually share with hundreds of thousands of people across the world. And while I know that my role in her courageous and inspiring story was relatively small, I’m nonetheless very proud to have played it.

I’m not sure how many books she signed before her NYC book signing event, but you can be sure that I was the first in line at the NYC signing to proudly get an autograph.

This story has many themes. Finding balance for optimization and healing is one. Another theme is about sharing your gifts to create massive benefit for the world as well as deep, satisfying work for yourself.  

Sourcing Your Heart's Gift

Online Yoga and Meditations Course Starts April 23

I recently created an online yoga and meditation course called Sourcing Your Heart’s Gift. It’s an engaging journey about finding deep personal satisfaction and generously serving the world by sourcing your heart to discover your purpose. I loved building it and in the process my heart grew exponentially. It’s been wonderfully successful and I’m eager to run it again. The next course begins in one week on April 23.

By creating the Be More with Less movement several years ago, Courtney found her heart’s gift for the world and is bravely sharing it and actively making the world a better place. My heart’s gift for the world is sharing yoga and meditation so that people like Courtney can go out into the world and share the gifts that they are destined to share.

 

What is your gift that you need to share with the world?

I invite you to join me on this heart-felt journey of self discovery.

GIVEAWAY!

This is cool . . .

Courtney and I have teamed up to offer a joint giveaway. This giveaway is going to make you smile. I've teamed up with Courtney to help you know your heart. We'll be choosing two winners (one from a comment on this Instagram post and one from a comment on Courtney's post) by random drawing on April 18th to win membership to my online course, Sourcing Your Heart's Gift (including yoga, meditation, and a journey straight to your heart and a signed copy of her new book #SoulfulSimplicity. Learn more about my course with this  link. If you’d like to win, follow these 4 simple steps.

1. Like this post.

2. Comment with something that fills your heart.

3. Tag a friend who would like this book for an extra chance to win.

4. Head over to @bemorewithless and enter to win on her post (same image)

Horse Medicine

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Horse Medicine.jpg

I've had the great pleasure of leading mindfulness and yoga retreats at Wild Heart Horse Sanctuary, a sanctuary that houses rescues wild mustangs in Park City, Utah. Sonya Richins is a wonderful woman with an enormous heart and limitless energy to devote to saving these beautiful animals. At the sanctuary, we experience "horse medicine" which teaches us volumes about ourselves in relationship to these majestic animals. 

Typically, we begin our day with some yoga and meditation and explore some of the mystical qualities of these beautiful animals. We then do an exercise where we simply observe the horses and journal about what we noticed.

In simple observation, it is clear to see which horse is the diva, which one the protector, which one is aloof, etc. It's incredible how easy it is to relate to the personality of the horses.  

Perhaps one of the most profound experiences for me is always the opportunity to simply be present with the animals. We practice holding our own ground and approaching these mustangs neither aggressively or in a creeping manner. Sonya taught us to be in relationship with these horses rather than assert ourselves upon them.

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I remember during one retreat when it was my turn to approach the lead stallion, Kokepelli. I noticed him slightly back away so I paused and also took a step back. I waited and watched. After a few moments Kokepelli lifted his head toward me and looked at me. I took a few confident but calm steps toward him and he didn't move but remained calm as if he expected me. A few more steps and Kokepelli seemed eager for me to approach him. After several minutes, we were standing with our foreheads together, me scratching behind his ears. We were two parts of one bigger thing, man and horse. I could feel an enormous trust between us, a bond that still exists today.

There is a wonderful poem by Mary Oliver  called Wild Geese that starts:

You do not have to be good

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

Love what it loves

This reminds me that we are animals. It reminds me that we need to learn to work and heal our bodies, minds, and spirits on our their terms through invitation and not aggression or willpower.

We must listen to our bodies and create a relationship with it and wait for it to tell us how to take the next step. If we listen, we will eventually stand in complete connection with this physical part of our being, just like you can connect with any other animal. Learn to trust it. It will trust you.

I invite you to learn to trust the animal of your body this week.

Yoga Retreat in Tulum Mexico Sept. 15-21

Registration Ends April 18 2018

(GTA) Grand Theft Auto: A Study in Mindfulness pt. 2

Part 2: Chubby Hula Dancer Rides Again!

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This post won't make sense unless you read pt. 1 so go back and read the previous post and then come back to read this one. 

GTA

(Grand Theft Auto)

GTA.JPG

When my truck, Nina, was literally stolen from out of my hands, being very nearly killed in the process, it gave me a lot of time for reflection if only for the simple fact that it takes longer to walk places instead of drive. And despite being "mindfully pissed off" about the whole thing, I also had time to reflect on the many family members, friends, and acquaintances who had stepped up to help me,  whether that was to loan me their car, offer to take me somewhere, or simply share space, laugh, and swap stories. 

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After telling the yoga community about getting my truck stolen, many people said that they would also like to have a 1" sticker on the back of their car because it reminded them of the Wendell Berry poem that states that the greatest journey we will ever travel is the journey of 1" "by which  we arrive at the ground at our feet and learn to be at home."

I made more stickers and sold them to anyone who wanted them for $5. If I could only sell a couple thousand of those stickers, I could buy myself a nice reliable car and enjoy the metaphor of the ground at my feet rather than the cold, hard truth of it.

One woman, Penny, who bought a sticker also gave me a bag of Four Barrel coffee, the brand of coffee the sell at The Rose Establishment, (the coffee shop I went to directly after getting my truck stolen) and attached a note to it that said, "Because anyone who just got their ride stolen deserves a good cup of coffee." I was touched that she'd not only remembered my story but would also go out of her way to give me such a special, and heart-felt gift. Plus, it was damn fine coffee. 

My friend Nan let me drive her car for a few days.

My dad is awesome. He's retired and during my transportation crisis he allowed me to borrow his car for a few weeks.

Then, my good friends Christy and Brian called me and said that they owned two cars and were looking to get rid of one, the one parked in an auto-cocoon in the driveway which needed some repairs on the clutch. It was a 2001 Subaru Forester. We agreed that we'd tow it to my trusty mechanic, Peak Performance, and if the repairs weren't too extensive, I could pay for the repairs and $500 for the car. Fortunately, the repairs were only $300 and so for $800, I scored a car that ran better than my previous ride.

She's had low miles, clean interior, AC, cruise control—the whole bit. Getting that car felt like a big win. My dad also helped me get the Subaru to the shop and even sat with me at the DMV while I registered it (I know, right?). Then we went the Red Iguana for Mexican food, because everyone who just got a new ride deserves "killer Mexican food."

I had wheels again! And as I rolled down the street, I was overcome with the generosity of my friends and family. 

I brought the Subaru home and parked her in the driveway and what really made the experience complete is when I put another 1" sticker on the back. Then, she really felt like part of the family. 

Then, just two day after I started rolling around in my sweet, sweet Forester, I received a phone call from the police department informing me that they had found my truck! They asked me if I could come right then and pick it up. It wasn't far away, stashed in the parking lot of an apartment complex about 5 miles away.

I told the SLCPD that I was literally about 5 minutes from jumping in and teaching my Thursday morning 10:15 am Restore Yoga class and that there was no way I could come right then, but that I'd be free in about an hour and a half. They informed me that they had called the fingerprinting team who needed to dust the truck before they could release it to me anyway and that if I called back as soon as I was done with my class, there was a possibility that I'd avoid having to pay tow and impound fees.

See, in order to protect my vehicle from whomever stole it, the police have to tow it from where they found it and impound it so Truck Thief can't come and move it somewhere else. The down side is that this isn't a service the city offers for free. I'm the one who has to pay for tow and impound, usually runs around $200.

So, as I'm teaching my Restore Yoga class, questions like, "What kind of shape is my Nina in? What did they take and does it even run?" were swimming through my head and making it difficult to concentrate. After class, I wasted no time calling the police department and told them that I was on my way. They informed me that they had already called the tow truck but if I got to Nina before the tow truck did, I could avoid her from getting hoisted away.

I was off and soon learned just how speedy my new Subaru could be as I broke a few land speed records to get there. Just as I showed up, the tow truck operator was at that moment hoisting Nina onto the back of his truck. She looked frightened and battered but generally ok. I approached him and explained the situation. He told me flatly that he'd been given orders by the cops to tow my truck and that nothing but the OK from the cops could stop him from taking it. I tried fruitlessly to explain and even tried calling the officer to have him explain the situation but my phone at the time was in its palliative care stage of its life. Like many in this state, was about  to go to cell phone heaven and the battery just wasn't working well. Every time I connected to the SLCPD my phone decided to spontaneously power down and preventing me from getting the OK not to tow my car.  So, exacerbated, I told the guy, "Fine,  tow it and I'll meet you at the impound yard so I can talk to your boss."

I zipped over to the impound yard, a lovely place that looked like a parking lot for zombies. I entered the make-shift office, a long narrow room with dirty carpet, a couch that looked like it had been towed from off on the side of the road, and an obscenely large television blaring loud day-time TV commercials.

Behind the desk sat someone who upon first sight clearly displayed a super power—apathy.  I pled my case to Apathyman. I told him that I didn't want to have to pay $200 to impound and tow my car when the police said I didn't have to pay. He began using his super power immediately and mumbled something about being powerless, other than his obvious super power for Apathy, of course. Defiantly, I asked to talk to his boss.  Apathyman gave me a number to call to Bossman, who must have taught Apathyman everything he knew. He only said, "Let me make a phone call." Five seconds later the phone in the office where I was standing rang. It was Bossman talking again to Apathyman. In mere seconds, Apathyman hung up the phone and informed me that they were going to impound my car. To see them work together was almost inspiring, they were like the Stokton to Malone duo of shittiness.

To add insult to injury, Apathyman also told me that I couldn't just pay the fee and roll away. I didn't even know if my car rolled. He told me that in order to get my truck back, I'd need to go to the DMV to get an impound release form then bring it back to the impound yard, pay the fee and then I could take the car. It's easier to adopt a baby from Russia than it is to get your car outta hock. 

I left my truck at the impound yard and rolled away fuming mad. I had another yoga class to teach and I wondered how I was going to try to teach being centered when things were so crazy in my own head. 

I made arrangements with my good friend John to pick me up after my class. We went to the DMV and then back to the Zombie Parking Lot and the House of Hopelessness, home of Apathy Man, to get my truck back. We spend all afternoon running around and attending to the minutia. Finally, I'd retrieved the necessary forms, paid the fees, and Apathyman reluctantly gave me back the keys to my truck.

Just then it dawned on me that I hadn't even seen the inside of my truck. I wasn't sure what they'd stolen, what condition it was in, or if the truck would even start. So with reticence, I approached Nina. As I opened the door, I saw the front console was torn up a bit, the result of stealing my car stereo that wasn't working anyway. I think there's a special pawn shop for car stereos that don't work, very valuable in certain markets. Truck Thief had ransacked everything leaving it a total mess. I opened the shell and looked in the bed and saw that they had stolen my and my wife's yoga mats, cuz even truck thieves need to get centered and loosen up the muscles that tighten up during dramatic heists. I hoped that one day I would see him in class reevaluating the direction of his life. 

Then it dawned on me—something important was missing. More important than my stereo, more important than my yoga mat. Oh, no! Where was Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer! She wasn't on the dash! They kidnapped her, NOOOOOOOOO, those bastards!

Feeling broken hearted, abused, and completely frustrated, I tried my best to put my dashboard back together the best I could. Then I sat in the seat and put the key in the ignition and prayed she would start. Can you fuel a car on anger and despair?

Even before she was stolen, Nina sounded pretty hard thanks to her rusted out muffler and non-existent tail pipe. To my great surprise she did fire up however, now she sounded more like Howlin' Wolf than Nina Simome. But at least she ran.

I rolled out of the Zombie Parking Lot and waved a thank you to my friend John who sped away. I drove straight to my trusty mechanic, Peak Performance. They kindly looked Nina over and informed me that she was basically fine but that Truck Thief had stolen the catalytic converter, part of the exhaust system, because there is some precious metals in there, like palladium, the same stuff my wedding ring is made of. I would have to get that fixed if I wanted to drive the Truck. I drove directly to the muffler shop and asked them to please hook me up with another catalytic converter and while you were at it, fix the tailpipe, all of which was going to cost me around another $450.

I took the bus home feeling sorry for myself after such an emotional and harrying day. But as I was walking home from the bus stop I couldn't help but think of all the people who had helped me out. I thought of everyone who had wished me well and offered condolences and an understanding moment of bewilderment after seeing my ride stolen. I thought of Nan who loaned me her car for a few days, and my dad,  who let me tool around in his truck for almost two weeks. I thought of Brian and Christy who gave me a screaming deal on a new ride. I thought of how nice it was to ride my bike places. I thought of how nice, accommodating and professional, Peak Performance had been to have fixed my new ride and advise me on my old one. I thought of John who helped me out by running me all over town, who had shown up on my door steep the day Nina had been stolen asking if there were anything he could do, like run errands or just offer a listening ear. I thought of the cops who'd found it and who despite everything really had an air of generosity in their tone. All of that. My pity party didn't last long in the face of all that generosity and good will.

So, the next day, I rode my bike a few miles to pick up my truck from the muffler shop. I put my bike in the back of Nina and drove away, quieter than ever I can remember her sounding, feeling like this truck hadn't run that well and sounded that good in several years. And even though I knew it would add to the rust, I decided to go against protocol to give Nina a wash. I took her to a car wash and spent the better part of an hour cleaning her inside and out. I wanted to get the kidnaped feeling scrubbed off of her. It was a little traumatizing to see my fingerprints still smeared on the dirty window on the driver-side from where I'd tried to hold on as the guy was literally stealing my truck from my own hands. You see, I caught him in the act but not fast enough to stop him from bolting off and almost running me over in the process. I reassembled the dash, the result of ripping off my stereo. Then, other than the hole where my stereo used to be, everything was back to normal. Better than normal, really.

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And then to my immense surprise and pleasure as I was vacuuming under the seat, guess who was hiding? Yes, Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer!  From what I can deduce, sometime during her kidnapping, she used all her hula-power strength  to unstick herself from the dash and jumped down to hide under the seat to wait for the storm of car thieving to pass. I picked her up, brushed the dust off of her blue plastic grass skirt and placed her redemptively back on the center stage of the dash.

As I dove away from the carwash, without a song on the radio (without a radio), just the satisfaction of a clean car and my Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer swaying to the smooth purr of a well-exhausted engine, I felt that everything was right in the world.  Watching Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer's happy dance reminded me that somehow, every moment is an opportunity for celebration.

Whoever stole my truck, my stereo, my catalytic converter, and my yoga mats also gave me something in return. Something very small but unspeakably valuable. Resting in the seat next to the dismantled dash and various trash, was a blue rubber bracelet honoring the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombing. Fascinating, right? This bracelet is a symbol of people coming together in the time of such tragedy and horror.

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And that's exactly what this bracelet did for me. This bracelet reminded me that despite any tragedy or fiasco, ranging from a bombing to getting your ride stolen, human beings have an amazing power to come together and to show up, love, and support to one another in the face of hardship. I roll more smoothly and with more ease after all this truck stealing business.

For a few years,  I kept that blue bracelet in the hole in the dashboard where my stereo used to be. I rarely think of the guy who stole from me but often think of those who gave to me, so generously and lovingly from their hearts at a time of trouble. That bracelet reminds me how good people can be.

Despite everything, getting my car stolen has shown me that yes, there are some careless, rude, and probably desperate people who might steal your ride simply for the low-hanging fruit of its parts and almost worthless stuff inside, but that there are dozens more people who will freely give of their love, help, and support quicker than you can say "hotwire my ride." This experience of getting my truck stolen has reinforced my faith in people more than tarnished it. And even though the whole thing experience me around $1500, I'm the richer for it. I'm rich in the form of friendships, love, and support. I'm rich in the mere experience. The story itself makes me rich. 

It's my prayer that as we practice yoga and meditation, we look inside and see is a being filled with love and light. May we understand our own brightness and then spend our energy shining our light into the dark corners of the world. My invitation to you is to choose some way to shine your light to others today. Send a text and let someone know you're thinking about them. Offer to help someone out on the side of the road. Understand your light and use it to brighten everything around you. Maybe this good will is what really makes Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer move. Not jazz organ. 

The way to steal someone's heart is by giving your own. 

Who knows, maybe one day while teaching a yoga class, I'll recognize my yoga mat under someone else's feet. I'll know that the person on that mat is on their way to finding the light that is within them, regardless if they stole a ride to get there. We are all on this journey together, though some of us tend to take the long and hard road to get there. 

Namaste, everyone, including you, Truck Thief. I honor the light that shines inside of me and shines inside of you . . . somewhere. Thank you for ripping off my ride to show me the meaning of generosity, love, and kindness. 


Grand Theft Auto: A Study in Mindfulness

Yoga Amalfi Coast

Yoga Retreat Along the Amalfi Coast

May 26–June 2 2018. Only 3 Spots Left!

Part 1: Chubby Hula Dancer's Last Ride

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Ever feel like life is all some absurd cartoon? Let me fill you in. This story is how my truck got stolen and how it helped me be more mindful. 

See, I used to drive a wonderful old truck ('93 Nissan) which was very generously given to me in February 2006 when crisis came to visit for a winter. Different story, different day. 

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My truck's name was Nina cuz she was red and sultry like Nina Simone and sounded like she'd been smoking without a filter and drinking gasoline her entire life. Over the years, I'd put a little money into her to keep her running, but largely she was a wonderfully reliable part of my life.

Nina was a great old lady. She was missing a tailpipe, her radio was broken, sun visors missing, driver's side mirror broken, and one of the windows on her shell was shattered, but she started up almost every time. It was a stark moment when I realized that the exterior had reached such a point of dereliction that washing her would only harm her more. 

I had a constant companion riding shotgun in this rusty ride. Affixed to the dash was Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer. Over the years I'd learned that we share a love for jazz organ music. I know this because that's when did her best dancing. I mean she REALLY got into it. I'd often car-dance along with her but I couldn't compare to the sweet moves of Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer.

1"

Another fun feature of my ride was the sticker on the back window which read 1". You know those stickers people post on the back of their cars that simply say 26.2? They are bragging rights for those who have trod the distance of a marathon. Well, I made a sticker in the same style that simply read 1". And yes, in a hyper-masculine world of lift kits and truck nuts it takes someone very secure in his manhood to roll around town with a 1" sticker on the back of his truck.

The sticker is a references to one of my favorite poems by Wendell Berry called "A Spiritual Journey." 

"A Spiritual Journey"

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And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,

no matter how long,

but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch,

very arduous and humbling and joyful,

by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet,

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and learn to be at home.

To me, this poem reminds me that the greatest journey I will ever travel or the greatest place I might ever hope to arrive is the distance of 1", to the ground at my own feet, the awareness of my True Self, the real, Divine me, and to feel at home in my own heart, and to know whatever lives there.

Honeymoon is Over

So, in August of  2014 my wife and I were living in Salt Lake City. We'd only been married for a few months and already we had been through tremendous highs and lows. Literally one week prior to getting married, I'd closed the doors on the two yoga studios I owned, both of which had been limping along for years. But getting married was bliss and we'd just come home from our honeymoon to Greece and Spain where we lay on the beach, ate pastries with abandon, and fell deeper in love with each other.

Before getting married, I had been under enormous stress and now, back from our honeymoon, I was eager to move forward in my life with more bliss, happiness and stability.

Not long after coming home from our honeymoon, Seneca's car, received a terminal diagnosis from the auto shop and we decided to sell it—I posted it online and it sold in 14 minutes for cash. So, for a few weeks were sharing my truck. Sharing a car made getting around a little tricky but we managed. Compared to the stress I'd already had that summer, the stress of sharing a car was nothing.  

Super-human Core Strength

One Saturday we decided to drive my truck down to the Farmers Market. We parked and walked the few blocks over to buy our produce. 

On our way back, we returned to the place I'd parked my truck and it wasn't there. Instead, it was parked about 100 feet away in a different spot. Confused, I started to think through the possibilities: Had I left the truck out of gear? Maybe it started to roll and someone had kindly parked it on flat ground for me? Was I parked illegally and law enforcement had moved it? Was there a free valet service at the Farmers Market? I hadn't given anybody my keys.

 

None of these options made sense and as I got closer to my truck I saw someone milling about it and it dawned on me what was happening—someone was stealing my truck at that moment!

I broke into a dead sprint toward my truck and the Truck Thief. Truck Thief saw that his heist's owner was bearing down toward him and panicked. He immediately jumped into the cab and started the engine. I saw that he had parked in front of a large concrete barrier and couldn't move forward and I soon arrived arrived to the back of the truck before he could back up preventing him from getting away. I began to scream at him to stop stealing my truck. 

At that moment, Truck Thief and I had the exact same thought: There's no way to steal this truck with someone standing behind it. Truck Thief soon thought of a different option, one I had not considered up to that point, which was to run over the lesser of the two obstacles blocking his way (read the crazy dude standing with his hands on the back, screaming).  Without a hesitation, Truck Thief threw Nina into reverse and floored it. Fortunately the tires we pretty bald, giving me a warning screech and a half of a second delay to jumped out of the way. 

As the truck whizzed past me,  I did the first thing that came to mind which was to grab onto the half-rolled window on the driver's side and proceeded to run with him as he was backing at an incredible speed. I don't know what I was hoping for with that desperate action. I'm a yoga teacher and I know that with enough core strength you can do anything. Perhaps I thought that if I could just lift the car up, immobilizing all four wheels, I could hold it there until the cops came. For a brief second we were our faces were mere inches apart. And though I was so close, I honestly can't say what his face looked like because it wildly distorted with a look that said, "Holy shit! That dude's running next to me and holding onto the window while I'm stealing his ride!" 

He then popped the truck into gear and shot off, ripping my hands from the window and tearing out of the parking lot then down the road like a fugitive, leaving me standing there like an idiot—but an idiot who didn't get ran over. Seneca stood 50 feet away and watched the entire event transpire in complete horror.

After it was all done, we stood there staring at each other with a look like, "Well, that just happened." It was over in 10 seconds or less.

We called the police. They filed a report.

Then we walked a half block to one of Salt Lake City's best coffee shops, The Rose Establishment, to have some coffee and wait for someone to come and give us a ride. While waiting for our ride, I posted on social media, "Because when someone has just stolen your truck, you deserve a really nice cup of coffee." While waiting for the baristas to make our brew, it dawned on me that in a matter of two weeks, we had gone from having two cars, to one, to none. And while we don't mind walking, it feels differently when you gotta walk cuz someone ripped off your ride.

Mindfully Pissed

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Here's where this get's a little deep. This might sound out there but, even while my truck was being stolen and then directly after, I felt a strange sense of grand awareness about the whole thing. Even while it was happening, I could see that in the big picture, what's true is that getting your truck stolen really isn't that big a deal. In fact, in some ways it feels completely absurd, like I'm staring in my own cartoon, as my friend Nan puts it. I'm sure I'd feel differently if the guy had ran over me. 

Yet with the very same awareness that getting your truck stolen is ultimately inconsequential, came the realization that what is also true is that my smaller self has real and intense feelings about getting my truck stolen. Despite my intermittent "grand awareness," the stoic and bland "it-is-what-it-is" mindset doesn't cut it with me. Not entirely. "What it is" sucks! And to deny that is to deny the part of me that despite not having the grand awareness, still exists, at least to some degree.

Yoga and meditation has taught me not to deny my feelings but rather to drink them in and thereby use them to illuminate the True Self, tools for practicing being aware. 

Awareness of the True Self is actually about freedom. The freedom , for example, is to be absolutely present with emotions, not to deny them. So with that in mind, I felt free to choose to be mindfully pissed off and honored my primal need to shout loudly through my clenched teeth every four letter word I know . . . besides love . . . and hope . . . and nice.

I wonder if Truck Thief was thinking to himself, "I'm very mindfully pinching this dude's ride. Vrrr-Ommmmmm."?

As I saw my truck reseed into the distance, my 1" sticker reminded me that the crucial step along the journey toward the True Self is to be at home in my heart and to learn to be comfortable with everything as just it is. This spiritual journey of 1", like Wendell Berry says,  is "arduous, humbling and joyful by which I arrive at the ground at my feel and learn to be at home." And at that moment I was forced into learning this lesson which lay at my feet because for the unforeseeable future, I would be walking. 

Driving It Home

May our practice, whether on or off the mat, be to strive to always experience this "arduous, humbling and joyful" journey of the human experience to the fullest, and use the events which befall us as tools to become ever more aware of our True Self. Be the small self of emotions and the True Self with the grand perspective. Practice this and be responsible and kind to other people. 

 GIF at https://tenor.com/

GIF at https://tenor.com/

Sometimes this life really does feel like some wild Sponge Bob Square Pants episode that the Divine is Netflixing alone on some late night while drinking a beer and eating some non-GMO corn chips and salsa.

In the big picture getting my truck stolen wasn't very important. I actually enjoyed riding my bike for a while, burning off some of the pastries I ate while on my honeymoon, and simultaneously burning off some of the anger resulting from getting my ride pinched. 

I'm sure Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer never danced for Truck Thief as wildly as she did for me. 

And while I pedaled around Salt Lake City,  I hoped that Truck Thief would return my truck with a full tank of gas.

The story continues . . . 


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