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.

Kula Yoga Nikki vilella.jpg

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.

Wanderlust hollywood schuyler grant.jpg
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!



The Magic of Going with The Flow

Search Other Posts

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.

 

2018.05.27_Italy_ScottMooreYoga_0191.jpg

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.

Guided Meditations for Sleep: It's Finally Here!

Search Other Blog Posts

Guided Meditations for Sleep



I’ve been teaching yoga and meditation for more than 15 years and one of the needs I hear most from my students is the need for better sleep. I hear that need literally by the many snores in savasana. So many of you have asked me to put something like this together and I'm so happy to tell you that finally, it's here!

As a culture that values productivity above almost everything else, the one things we seem to sacrifice most is our need for good sleep.

I don't have to tell you that good sleep promotes wellness in body, mind, and spirit, and helps you to be alert, productive, and fulfill your purpose for being on the planet. So much is riding on your ability for good sleep, so let’s learn how to do it well.

This week, I've shared with you the ways that meditation helps us to quiet our minds to get that good sleep we really need. Now, the theory is over and it's time to put this into action.

I've incorporated my 15+ years of experience teaching meditation and yoga, and I've put a lot of time and energy, into creating Guided Meditations for Sleep™. My intention with this product is to help people be at their best because they have learned the yoga of how to get really, really, solid sleep. 

Guided Meditations for Sleep™ is a complete system designed to promote deep, nourishing, and peaceful sleep. It incorporates body, mind, and spirit to relax the nervous system, still the body, and quiet the mind, to train yourself to get excellent sleep. It also gives you productive ways to help you get back to sleep in case you're someone who wakes up a lot during the night. 

Check out everything contained in Guided Meditations for Sleep:

  • Welcome Letter & How To Use This PDF
  • 5 Guided Meditations for Sleep audio recordings
  • Body Scan with Deep Relaxation (31:15)
  • Body Scan with Deep Relaxation with background music (31:15)
  • Dream imagery Relaxation (28:25)
  • Dream Imagery Relaxation with background music (28:25)
  • Sanctuary Practice (10:21) Awesome!
  • Pre-sleep Breathing Techniques audio recording (10:02)
  • Pre-sleep Gentle Yoga Stretches PDF
  • Pre-sleep General Guidelines for Good Sleep PDF
  • Pre-sleep Checklist PDF
  • Why Mindfulness Helps You Sleep PDF
  • Tech Tips PDF

Check out what people are saying about Guided Meditations for Sleep™

Check out what people are saying about Guided Meditations for Sleep™:

"Best sleep I've had in weeks!"~ Nan

"Scott's calming voice helped me to first focus, then relax and meditate. The next thing I knew I woke up, having drifted off." ~Chris

"Your voice was perfect. It was calm, relaxing and inviting me to relax and get myself ready for sleep.  When I finished the tape I immediately fell asleep.  When I woke up I felt like I had experienced a deep sleep." ~Carol

"These relaxation visualizations really work! I can sleep much better now." ~Steve

"Scott has the ability to nurture and empower at once, connecting you with your own heart to find that which you need the most. Scott is a humble loving guide." ~Marit

And for everyone who buys Guided Meditations for Sleep™ this weekend, I'm including a bonus recording of original music, the profoundly relaxing Clarinet Lullaby with Ocean Soundscape (30 minutes.) You're going to love this! 

You might find other recordings out there that use meditation to help you sleep but nothing is as effective, extensive, and enjoyable as Guided Meditations for Sleep™. In fact, you’ll most likely never know what is in the last several minutes of each recording because you won’t be able to stay awake.

Plus, Guided Meditations for Sleep™ is a digital download so you will get it even faster than Amazon Prime! You'll be able to download it immediately and use it tonight for an incredible night's sleep! 

I want to make this affordable so I'm only charging,


$29.


Guided Meditations for Sleep™ is second only to hiring me to personally come and tuck you in...now there's an idea. 

I absolutely loved putting this together and I hope you love it too. I really wanted to spend the time and effort to make this great because I understand how important it is and wanted to give it my best.

So, you can buy a different guided meditation CD online for $15, or go to iTunes and download something for cheap. Hell, you can even go to YouTube and watch a video for free. But what I've created, I feel, is something special which is hugely valuable and I designed it with YOU in mind. You'll have this in your digital library for years to come. 

There's so much content here that I think you'll agree that is well worth the price.

Plus, I stand behind my work so if you're not completely satisfied with it, I'll refund your money, no questions.

You're going to want to check out these samples (click below) and buy Guided Meditations for Sleep™ today.

Remember that if you buy it this weekend, you'll get the mellifluous sounds of Clarinet Lullaby with Ocean Soundscape (30 minutes).

Namaste and nighty-night,



Scott
Ommmzzzzzz

You'll love the visualizations, the detailed and easy-to-follow pre-sleep breathing practices and yoga poses, as well as essential sleep information to cultivate your stellar sleep habits. This is so much more than just a recording.

This system even guides you through the process of creating your optimal sleeping environment, then you slip into bed and listen to me lull you to sleep. It's so nice!

One thing I've learned in my many years of teaching is that everyone has a beautiful life to live and that everyone's pathway to wholeness is different. Nobody knows what you need better than you. So I've built Guided Meditations for Sleep™ to work with all kinds of brains: the analytical, visual, musical, instructional, etc. Surely there's something in here for you. 
 


Guided Meditations for Sleep

 
 

The Gayatri Mantra: A Love Supreme

Search Previous Blog Posts

The Gayatri Mantra

Oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ

tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ

bhárgo devásya dhīmahi

dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt

Watch a short video about understanding the Gayatri Mantra by looking at John Coltrane’s masterpiece, ALove Supreme.

Translation:

Everything on the Earth and in the sky and in between is arising from one effulgent source. If my thoughts, words, and deeds reflected a complete understanding of this, I would be the peace I am seeking in this moment.


The Gayatri Mantra: A Love Supreme

I've been working on understanding the The Gayatri Mantra for several years. It's one of the oldest mantras in existence, more than 12 thousand years old, and comes from the Rigveda, an ancient Sanskrit text containing hymns and mantras that are mythological and poetic accounts of the origin of the world.

I struggle to understand it because it suggests that when I’m feeling freaked out by something, I already have peace or am the peace that I feel I lack. Likewise, this mantra suggests that somehow through one Source, we are everything else. And to any mind that is caught up in limited a conception of Self, this is hard to understand at best and ridiculous at worst.

Join me for an unforgettable yoga retreat along the Amalfi Coast Italy May 26-June 2 2018

One experience I had that helped me to understand this mantra a little better happened several years ago while I was on an early-morning run in Hawaii. Because my body was used to a different time zone, I was up and running early while most of everybody else was sleeping. On that beautiful morning, I ran along a paved trail that contours the ocean and stretched for miles.


All the elements were harmonized to make a perfect storm of physical, mental, and spiritual bliss. My mind was clear, the weather, temperature, altitude and humidity were all perfect. As I ran, my mind opened up to incredible clarity. In this clarity, I began processing some of the jazz improve theory that my sax teacher had been teaching me, specifically regarding works by John Coltrane. My feet tapped along the trail and my lungs bellowed the humid ocean-air while my mind thought about scales, intervals, harmonics, chords, and all of the underlying structure of jazz.

My sax teacher tells me that if I want to find those notes coming out of my horn, I have to not only feel them in my soul, but I also gotta know what is possible to feel and that takes a little head work. With all this mental clarity some fairly complex music theory simply started to make sense to me. Deeper musical ideas began to percolate to my mental surface causing new lights to go on. I was figuring it out and it was happening without any teacher or even the reference of my sax or even music paper.

I was amazed to realize that somehow, a lot of this understanding was already in there. Astounded by these musical revelations, an immense thought dawned upon me: even if it’s waaaay down there, there is a John Coltrane in me somewhere.

The perfect run with all the harmony of elements connected me in some way to Source which led me somehow to understand Coltrane a little better. If I truly understood the connection of all things, if I were truly tapped into Source like the Gayatri Mantra suggests, I’d be able to access that same power, soul, and knowledge that John Coltrane did. Me! John Coltrane! Ultimately, I'd see that I'm no different than John Coltrane.

Coltrane was connected to Source. He demonstrates this plainly in his most spiritual work, some say the most spiritual of all of jazz, his album called A Love Supreme. In it he makes circles both in the arc of the sound in music as well as in its form; this chord and this phrase makes a logical, mathematical, and aurally pleasing transition to the next, and the next until the formula causes it to arrive back to where it started.

Just as you might hear Brahman priests chanting the Gayatri Mantra from the Rigveda, in this recording you hear these priests of jazz chant, “A Love Supreme” repeatedly in the background evoking Source.

In certain disciplines initiates get a new name. In yoga your name might become Yogananda, or Ram Das. Jazz is no different. It might be Trane or Bird or Fathead. I believe that another name for God, like God's own moniker, could be, A Love Supreme. I think God uses it as a social handle, or something.

In part, Coltrane’s message was that everything is inscribed within A Love Supreme. A Love Supreme is The Effulgent Source mentioned in the Gayatri Mantra and to fully comprehend this Source means to understand everything, including peace, including jazz, including yourself. This is enlightenment and whether your path there incorporated practicing either poses or jazz theory or anything else, you still end up at the same place.

Alice Coltrane, J.C.’s wife at the time, said that one day Trane locked himself in the attic and didn’t come down for three days. He spent the entire time meditating (understand that Coltrane meditated with his horn in his mouth) and when he came down, I imagine that it was like Moses coming down from the mountain after talking to God, he looked at his wife and said, “I’ve got it!” A few days later he was in the studio with a few hand-picked musicians to record A Love Supreme, which quickly became one of the greatest pieces of music ever conceived.

We are still chanting the Gayatri Mantra 12 thousand years later. I hope people are chanting A Love Supreme, or at lease spinning the record, 12 thousand years from now.

Understanding, even theoretically, that knowing Source means to know everything, doesn’t discount the hours, weeks, years, and lifetimes of work and practice necessary to get there, but still the idea is provocative that our work isn’t to build or gain anything new, rather to dismantle that which prevents us from seeing what’s already there.

What we practice in yoga is paying attention and we use breath, poses, and mediation to open our eyes and to take off the bandages to reveal what’s underneath.

Another reference to understanding this universal Source comes from the story about the day Zen came to be. It is said that long ago an assembly gathered to hear the Buddha’s Dharma talk. Instead of a discourse, The Buddha simply held up a flower saying nothing. He stayed like that for a long time much to the confusion of most everyone.

Only the sage Mahakashyapa understood, and noted it with a wry smile. With his flower, the Buddha was saying that which could not be spoken by words. He was showing the assembly that Being or Reality had no boundaries and was found in everything, including a flower, and to even try to define Being or Reality by words would create a boundary for something that had none. Anything defined would have been a contradiction yet at the same time he was revealing that which was everywhere, if your understanding would allow you to see.

“If my thoughts words and deeds reflected a complete understanding of this unity,” . . . I would realize that I’m no different than this flower, or my sax, my music, or you, and I would understand that peace is already within me. And yet to understand this, like myriad myths throughout history also suggest, it might take me traveling the entire world to realize that what I was searching for was at home all along, locked within the vault of my heart.

I invite you to practice understanding the Gayatri Mantra better and practice unraveling anything within yourself that would prevent the world from seeing your own manifestation of the Effulgent Source, your True Nature, your Love Supreme.

And since it is said that Visvamitra was the one who gave us the Gayatri Mantra, we’ll work on exploring Reality through Visvamitrasana. Speaking of “getting Real,” once I start working on my inflexible hamstrings, something necessary for that pose, things get real, really fast.

Might I suggest listening to A Love Supreme this week.

 

Mastery

In order to gain mastery, you must dismantle as much as you build.
— ~Master Sinon. The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak.

What is mastery?

Scott Moore Yoga

Author and poet David Whyte illustrates mastery with a great story about an old welsh sheepdog named Kumro. According to David Whyte, Kumro was “the Joe Montana of the canine cosmos,” despite the fact that he was ancient in dog years, limped on a gimpy leg, and was missing key visual and hearing functions.

David Whyte describes seeing the younger, spry dogs trying fruitlessly to direct the sheep by spending enormous amounts of energy all the while Kumro stood back and simply watched (with his good eye).

Finally, Kumro decided something needed to be done. He took merely two or three steps in one direction, slightly turned his body a few degrees in the direction of the sheep, and almost like magic the entire flock funneled obediently into the narrow opening in the wall where he had wanted them to go.

Kumro’s edge, his mastery, was his radical simplicity—minimal effort for maximum benefit.

Richard Simmons.jpg

In decades past, the mantra for mastery was “Mind Over Matter.” As I’m writing this, I’m conjuring visions of high-waisted leotards, leg warmers, and headbands. It was conquer and conquest of body and nature. But to mistake body and nature as our foes unfortunately results in broken and bodies and annihilated environments.

Today we live in the Information Age. By applying correct information, we can achieve and practice mastery by doing less to get exponentially more and without the high cost of conquering ourselves. Instead of “Mind Over Matter,” the new mantra is “Mindfulness With Matter.” The information we gain for mastery doesn’t come from the internet, a course, or a book (remember those, or did they go out with the leg-warmers?). The profound and life-changing information I’m talking about comes only by learning to listen to the master within, like your own personal Yoda, the quiet and wise whispering of body, mind, and spirit. While a teacher can help, they can never substitute for that inner master. Mastery, therefore, involves learning to listen to the wisdom already inside of you.

John Coltrane had mastery. He had teachers, yes, but who taught Coltrane to be Coltrane? Coltrane did.

Learn to listen. Listen to learn.

Of course, this applies directly to our yoga practice. In my mind, there is no “achievement” by putting your foot behind your head. That mentality is so “Mind Over Matter.” In class I like joke that if there is a pose I can’t do, that pose is overrated. Sure, I’ll keep practicing it because of what I can learn in the listening, but I have no delusions that by putting my foot behind my head will make me more spiritual, more valuable, or a better person.

Instead, the achievement is all internal and mind-bogglingly more expansive than flexible hamstrings. It’s the invisible flexibility of my constant growth into Awareness, a mastery which is facilitated by the tools of my body, mind, and breath but which fundamentally isn’t body, mind, and breath. And this expansiveness can only come from a mastery of what is most subtle.


Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Author of Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince)
le petit prince.jpg
One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.
— Bruce Lee
Mastery

So, if mastery is minimalism, what do we need to cut in order to practice it? Start by cutting everything that isn’t absolutely necessary. Start by radically cutting everything but the breath.

Try this experiment:

Sit. Close your eyes. Breathe slowly in and out. Listen and feel. Visualize your breath as a color or texture and localize your breath to any place on your body you choose. You’ll soon feel a tingle, a heaviness, a lightness, or something else. If you chose a hand, it might feel as if that hand is larger or lighter than the other. This kind of attention and focus on the breath will localize Prana, the yogic term meaning life-force energy. You can feel Prana. Also, this focus brings Awareness. Now what if you could breathe this Prana, this life-force energy and Awareness in into your mind, your emotions, or hell, your finances or love life? That’s mastery.

“Dude, how did you finally let go of all of your anxiety?”

“I found my breath.”

I invite you to practice and cultivate mastery by cutting everything but the essentials. Practice breathing and meditation. Practice styles of yoga like yin, restore, and pranayama that celebrate getting much more by doing much less. There’s nothing wrong with vigorous yoga. And as you approach whatever poses or life situation, try simplifying down to the essence. Learn to breathe life into whatever you are experiencing at the moment.

Next week I’ll continue on this theme of mastery with even more practical ways of using our breath, and Prana to develop mastery in our yoga and meditation practice, our love life, and our work.


Virtual Yoga Nidra Series October 8-November 12

Three Chords And The Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Bob Dylan

 Guitar Jimi Hendrix Played at Woodstock

Guitar Jimi Hendrix Played at Woodstock

 Lyrics for The Times They Are A Changin'

Lyrics for The Times They Are A Changin'

 Joe Strummer's Guitar

Joe Strummer's Guitar

 The Clash

The Clash

 Elio Sticks it To The Man

Elio Sticks it To The Man


San Francisco Yoga Tour Sept. 21-24 2017

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

Lionel Richie is My Guru

Lionel Richie is my Guru

A year or so ago, my wife and I were driving home from dinner at my Dad’s house.

During dinner my dad was playing what I felt was some god-awful, nails-on-the-chalkboard, Soft Rock musical desecration on the stereo, Lionel Richie’s Greatest hits or something, I can’t remember, but on the drive home, I couldn’t stop going off about how terrible the music was and why was it that my dad even like that shit in the first place, and bla bla bla.

After several long minutes of spewing my terrible opinions about the music I felt I’d been subjected to, it was suddenly as if the Universe had heard enough of my verbal vomiting and pushed mute on my mouth. With a stroke of sudden self-awareness, I heard myself blathering on about something so inconsequential and for no reason other than to satisfy some habitual downward spiral of negativity. With clarion insight, I checked my complaining mid-sentence and the next words that came out of my mouth changed my life: “I don’t need to have an opinion about that.”

This phrase immediately canonized into my mind as my new mantra. At that moment, I saw both how useless my ranting was as well as the immense energy I was putting into spewing my acrid opinions all over those unfortunate enough to be in my company. God bless my wife, Seneca, who said nothing the entire car ride home but who, I’m sure, was enduring every Soft Rock epithet with thinning patience.

“I don’t need to have an opinion about that. Who cares if my dad listens to Lionel Richie’s Greatest Hits?!” From that moment forward, I decided that Lionel Richie was something I simply didn’t need to waste calories criticizing. And more importantly, I discovered the magical truth that I have the choice to turn my opinions off and that when I do, I feel empowered, unperturbed, and frankly happier. So simple!

Can I suggest that you begin using this mantra immediately for massive and astounding results for not only your attitude toward the world but also the world’s attitude toward you? I’m really not over selling this.

The people with whom I’ve shared this mantra are loving it. I shared it at a meditation event I cohosted a few weeks before the holidays last year. A few weeks later I received a message from a couple who had attended the event and who said that the mantra, “I don’t need to have an opinion about that,” had single-handedly saved Christmas. Another woman wrote me recently to say that as she was driving to do be interviewed on television, she confronted the nervous knots in her stomach with “I don’t need to have an opinion about that,” and watched her nervousness completely dissolve. These people are not alone. In fact, since I’ve been sharing this mantra, I’ve received such a preponderance of positive feedback from it that I’ve decided this mantra deserves its own post.

Simple mantra. Profound implications. One reason it’s profound is because it provokes us to change our identity from one that defines itself by the mosaic of our ever-changing opinions, to one that identifies with the unchangeable Observer Self.

The credo of the Opinionator is “I critique therefore I am.” But the Opinionator fundamentally misunderstands their identity. Despite the fact that negative opinions are insidious, addictive, and low-vibration, opinions are fundamentally changeable so identifying with opinions and indulging in their fleeting existence sets us up for a massive existential disappointment.

Instead, identifying as an observer, even momentarily by doing something like repeating this mantra, is identifying with something much more real, what sages and spiritual traditions like yoga call the Observer Self, or True Self. The Observer Self is larger than our opinions and has the presence to pause and watch an opinion form and perhaps even choose to let it float on by down the river of consciousness.

This practice of merely observing something rather than reacting to it with an opinion leads us toward experiencing the state of our true inheritance, that of boundless equanimity, a state that can’t be shaken, not even by the immense weight of Lionel Richie’s Greatest Hits. Boundless equanimity is the natural comportment of our Observer Self and practicing identifying as the Observer Self rather than the Opinionator not only feels better but will also lead us to deeper stages of consciousness that can only come by deep observation.  

As your consciousness develops by practicing and living this mantra, you’ll feel more at one with the world and it will feel more at one with you. You’ll be surprised to see new and old friends materialize around you, friends who maybe shied away from the cantankerous person you used to be. Suddenly you’ll have friends again, and together you can talk about Lionel Richie!

And personally, if Lionel Richie was the guru to bring me to this truth, then perhaps I should be dancin’ on the ceiling . . . or place a shrine for him on my alter . . . or at least not be such a hater.  

Yes, yes, yes. It is true that we do need some of our opinions. It’s true that we must very deliberately add our conscious opinion and deliberate action to help make a better world for everyone. I would proffer nonetheless that the more we practice the no-opinion mantra about small stuff, especially stuff around our family (man, that’s a difficult practice!), the more we will be able to apply our energies toward those issues that truly deserve an opinion and action.

Plus, as practiced Observers, we will gain the compassionate ground to discuss and even debate important issues from our highest nature, with respect for those who have different opinions. And as practiced listeners and not reactionary opinion-spewers, maybe we’ll be able to inspire a similar respect from others.

May we learn first to listen, to our hearts as well as those of others, and then respond to the call to action and not be pulled off our compassionate ground by circumstances, the rash opinions of others, or the incendiary sounds of Soft Rock. Practicing the no-opinion mantra is a powerful practice to that end.

I invite you to start using “I don’t need to have an opinion about that,” today, at least for the small stuff.

And if after all this, you decide that you’re really happy with your tired menagerie of opinions. . . well, I don’t need to have an opinion about that.