This Is What I Believe . . .

Ever think about your beliefs as a part of your yoga practice? Believing isn't an indicator of truth or non-truth. It's just what you believe. But knowing what you believe is a great way of practicing understanding yourself. It makes us inquire. And through this inquiry, we can play at the edges of knowing, as poet Mary Oliver says. Also, sharing your beliefs, especially in a respectful way, opens your heart and allows others to see a real and honest part of you. This is about truth, the Sanskrit term Satya. Not that what you believe is true (it may be) but what is true is that you feel it and that you are honest and brave enough to share it. I invite you practice sharing your truth and watch as your life opens up; notice the ways others around you also open up as you share your truth.  

So, here's a practice for me. This is what I believe: 

First, I believe in people. I believe that people are not only good, they're amazing. I believe in the human spirit and its capacity to dream, innovate, work hard, and accomplish, sometimes beyond all odds. This human spirit has sent people to space, we have figured out how to see planets hundreds of million light years away. We make astoundingly beautiful art and movement. We dreamed up Hobbits and Star Wars and the The Royal Tenenbaums. We invented Oreos. Need I say more? We help each other out in times of personal, national, or global crisis. I believe that people, no matter what, somehow to their core, are driven by love.

I believe in yoga and meditation.

I believe in personal growth.

I believe in the power of a good movie.
I believe a good talk can work out most things.

I believe in respect, honesty, and integrity.

I believe that the Universe is mysterious and big and fascinating and that I'm somehow part of this big beautiful thing, planets hundreds of light years away and all, and by understanding myself better, I understand the Universe.

I believe in trying your hardest, even if you can't win, that trying your hardest is winning.

I believe in putting your heart out there, speaking your truth, and letting the consequences happen as they may.

I believe in love as the panacea to fix most everything.

I believe things have flaws and cracks and problems and they are perfect like that because through those cracks, as Leonard Cohen says, that's how the light gets in-our flaws are the avenue to growth and understanding to the Divine.

SAN FRANCISCO YOGA TOUR

MAY 19-22. 

I believe that I see the Divine in every person, creature, plant, and rock. I believe that the Divine has infinitely many forms and what does the Divine care if your offering to the Divine is religious service, or a prayer in the form of a decadent flourless chocolate cake to share with family and friends (for example). And since the Divine comes in so many forms, it is indeed the Divine who accepts your gift with gladness and thanks. Why not pray with your gifts, with what makes your heart sing, indeed that is a true offering.

I believe in a steady groove and a line of notes blown out the end of a saxophone.

I believe in people coming together to make miracles happen.

I believe in Girl Scout cookies.

I believe in traveling, getting outside your box, your neighborhood, and learning what's going on in this complicated, intricate and incredible blue marble of ours.

I believe in developing compassion by putting yourself in another person's shoes.

I believe in listening, and why not listen on a great sound system?

I believe in discipline with a healthy dose of conscious indulgence.

I believe in local business. I believe in helping out the little guy.

I believe in helping each other make our dreams happen.

I believe in showing up.

I believe in giving someone a chance.

I believe in music.

I believe in caring about our environment because I believe that we can individually make a difference.

I believe in standing up for what you believe, especially in a way that is honoring, respectful, and non-harming to others.

I believe in trail running.
I believe in watching others shine.

I believe in a good belly laugh until tears flow down your cheeks and you become hysterical.

I believe in the benefit of the doubt.

I believe in miracles.

I believe in accomplishing your wildest dreams.

I believe in making your space beautiful.

I believe in creating sacred space.

Again, I believe in love.

 

I believe in sharing. Please share what you believe.

 

Scott

 

On Stillness


Yoga Sutra 1:2 Yoga citta vrtti nirodhah. Yoga is the cessation of fluctuations of the mind.

One of our principle objectives in yoga is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is awareness. We can practice mindfulness while doing almost anything: walking your dog, riding your bike, practicing yoga, or just sitting.

Getting quiet and drawing in to stillness is necessary for any good work to happen. It's this quietness, this stillness, that allows the busy waters of our mind and emotions to settle enough for us to see what's down in the depths our being.

When we find this True Self, our work becomes effortless because we no longer feel that we are trying to affect anything from a personality we've conjured from a pretense. Rather, our work generates from this deep relationship with who we truly are. Our work is simply an extension of our deeper selves, the self that knows everything.

Our work, our medium is, as one good friend says, the loudspeaker of the soul.

To find this voice, we get quiet.

Can I suggest a stillness challenge? Give yourself 10 minutes of meditation each day this week. Devote a time, lock the door, turn off your phone, let your family members and pets know that you are having some alone time and even set a timer. Start with 10 minutes and if it feels incredible, go longer.

Here are a few simple ways to practice:

There Is Practice
Simply sit, close your eyes, and acknowledge what you sense, all of your senses. Without value or judgment, simply state what you are experiencing. Rather than identifying with the pronoun "I" simply say in your mind, "There is the sound of traffic, there is fatigue, there is worry, there is an incredible urge to rush to
Hatch Family Chocolates and eat 40 pounds of truffles." You know, whatever thought, emotion, sensation occurs. Simply state what is. Try not to identify with it. Just watch it.

Count Your Breaths
Choose a number and count your exhales down from that number to zero. When you loose your place start back at that number. If you get to zero, start back at that or a different number. Keep you mind only on your breath. This is a deceptively difficult practice, I feel.

Mantra
Mantra means to transcend through the use of your mind. Simply find a phrase that means something to you, a scripture, a poem, some tidbit of inspiration, and repeat it in your mind. Words are powerful. You are your word.


Scott

Check out this incredible event:

San Francisco Yoga Tour May 19-22

 

 

There's Something In The Tea

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I lived in Korea for a year teaching English and studying meditation. I loved to explore the locals-only part of this fascinating country.

One day a few friends and I wandered into a tea shop in the old part of town. At the back of the shop was a man, dressed in the Han Bok, the traditional Korean habit, who noticed us enter the shop.

Without a word he began to prepare tea. It took us a few moments to wander to the back of the store. By the time we noticed the man sitting behind a small wooden table, the water was hot. He motioned for us to join him. Delighted, we sat on a few cushions lying on the floor in front of the low table. He poured the tea into the pot and allowed the tea to steep.

After a few minutes, he laid out a few delicate tea cups and performed the proper ceremony to serve tea.

He didn't speak English. We didn't speak Korean. Together we spoke the language of human beings sharing tea. We simply sat in each other's presence and enjoyed tea. We didn't need to make small talk. We didn't need to make charades. Words would have been excessive.

Several long minutes passed. Then, we rose and bowed humbly to him. He smiled and bowed humbly back. We left the shop but he has never left our hearts.

There's something in the tea.


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You Can Never Go Back

standingatthecrossroads

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

crossroadsyoga

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

These crossroads don’t only involve the devil and the blues. Crossroads exist all over the place, wherever the other world meets this one, wherever the spirit world meets the physical one. Places like churches, temples, and holy sites. Places like your yoga mat. It’s like a tabernacle, what ancient people used as a traveling temple. Your yoga mat is the traveling temple where spirit and body meet to show you what’s possible inside of you. And yes, I’ve meet the devil there before. I’ve seen him in sitting on my tight hip in kapotasana, pigeon pose; on my steel hamstrings in hanumanasana, the splits pose; and I’ve seen him doing a victory dance on my quivering raised leg in that damned standing splits pose. I’ve come face to face with my physical limitations, yes, but also with my own neurosis, my deepest fears, self-limiting thoughts, and deep, deep wells of grief. I’ve seen that everything is linked to everything else. I’ve meet the divine on my mat as well.  I see regular joy in handstands, pleasure and peace in savasana, fun in transitions, and possibilities in postures. I get regular hits of insight, of purpose, and a deep sense of belonging. Most importantly, at the crossroads of where physical meets spiritual, I get regular glimpses of the real who and what I am.

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

This week, meet me at the crossroads. Meet me at Centered City Yoga on your yoga mat and explore that place where heaven meets earth.

Ayurveda: The Science of Life

salt lake city yoga

Ayurveda is the fascinating and practical science that studies the world and how we can best come into harmony with it. It is the sister-science of yoga and is an observational practice that puts you into the driver seat of your own wellness. What I love about Ayurveda is that while it can heal imbalances and maladies, it is most often used as a method of maintaining balance and well-being rather than only treating illness. One of my teachers told me that to truly understand yoga, you must also have a working relationship with Ayurveda.

Ayurveda studies three basic qualities called doshas. In their combination these doshas describe everything in the universe. To simplify, these qualities are: vata, wind quality; pitta, fire quality; and kapha, earth quality. Just like everything in the universe, each person has a unique expression of these qualities called a prakruti. Understanding your prakruti empowers you to negotiate the elements in your life in order to guide yourself toward radiant wellness for body, mind, and spirit.

Have you ever wondered why you don't feel fantastic even though it seems like you are doing all the right things that should make you healthy and feeling great? Have you ever followed a popular diet or exercise regimen only to feel worse? Sometimes even the kind of yoga we practice makes us leave feeling off. Understanding your prakruti helps you to guide yourself (sometimes with the help of an Ayurvedic practitioner) toward specific types of life-practices that optimize your unique chemistry. Remember, Ayurveda suggests that each person has a unique pathway to optimal wellness.

 Excessive amounts of any dosha causes us imbalance. Understanding this and correcting imbalances, often by simple and practical means, puts us back on the path to balance. Ayurveda acknowledges that what may be health promoting for one person may be diminishing for another. Regarding anything that affects our health, be that medicine or food or yoga, Ayurveda always asks, "For whom, how much, when, and why."

 Sometimes it takes an Ayurvedic practitioner, a trained guide, to help you figure out your prakruti and place yourself on a regimen that will guide you toward optimal wellness. With even a little understanding of Ayurveda and your prakruti, you'll be amazed at how easy it is to keep yourself feeling wonderful. With this understanding you will find the best food choices, sleeping, yoga and exercising patterns, and even scheduling, that will keep you feeling amazing.

 For fun, take this online dosha quiz and find out which dosha seems to match you.

This week, perhaps you can choose which yoga classes you attend based on what you feel like would give you the greatest balance. Feeling Kapha, (earth): sluggish, slow, or weighed down, or unclear? Get your bones outta bed and try coming to Monday morning’s 6 am (you heard me!) Rise and Shine class and give yourself a powerful start to your day and your week. Feeling Vata (wind): ungrounded, flighty, agitated, or nervous? Try coming to Restore Yoga on Saturday and settle your nervous system. Feeling Pitta (fire): overheated by a project or feeling of expectation or perfection? Try channeling some of that energy into a Power Class on Monday or Friday night at 5:45 pm. Use Auyrveda to direct your yoga choices.  

 This week we have the unique opportunity to have Arun Deva in town. Arun is an Ayurvedic practitioner whom I trust and have worked with personally. Getting a little insight about your particular balance will help empower you to find the wellness and balance you’re searching for. Details below.