Synergy is the interaction of multiple elements in a system to produce an effect different from or greater than the sum of their individual effects. The term synergy comes from the Greek word synergia συνέργια from synergos, συνεργός, meaning "working together".
For the second year, Susan pulled out her deck of ‘Animal Spirit’ cards and laid out a grid, like last year, which consists of 13 cards. Each card represents a month, and the central card represents the year.
The idea here is that of course our hours, days and months will be what they will be, however these cards give us clues as to ways we might find ourselves particularly imbalanced, but most importantly, remedies we can take to find alignment.
My insight during this process was as follows: we set the intention for the cards to bring our attention to matters and to be accurate. Then as we reveal the cards, take notes, with special attention to balance, imbalance and remedy.
Animal Spirit Card Reading October 2019 through September 2020
October 2019 Cobra
A teacher or guardian — (your inner wisdom, and those special people who show up as mentors and guides) will appear – what are you ready to learn.
When in balance – a student of life, humble and wise.
Imbalance – know it all, egocentric
Remedy: Take classes and study to find balance
November 2019 Deer
Deer represents feminine energy- absolute gentleness and compassion-
When in balance – receptive, compassionate, nurturing
Imbalance – concerned, protective
Remedy: Spend time in nature, or with children to return to balance
December 2019 Horse
The most masterful form of Earth energy! Expansive energy, momentum and freedom. Daily practice physical stamina and meditation
When in balance: Achieves anything, never gives up
Imbalance: runs away
Remedy: Strength training to restore balance.
January 2020 Fox
The fox is about staying true to those most dear, reconnect to those who are slipping away.
Balance – magical, ingenious, teacher, monogamous
Imbalance – sneaky, uncertain of their identity
Remedy: Partnership and connection brings balance
February 2020 Panther
The Panther is about annihilation of the unnecessary. Havoc! Uncomfortable! Devastating! But for the better.
When in balance – brave and productive
Imbalance – self-destructive
Remedy: Bring into balance by getting rid of the unnecessary
March 2020 Bear
The bear card is about awakening from slumber. The cusp of personal transformation.
Balance – inner strength, desire to grow
Imbalance – withdrawn, lethargic, heavy
Remedy: To balance – movement and exercise
April 2020 Scorpion
Passionate and determined, career is important, as are a few select friends. It’s time to come clean about feelings.
Balance – wild and free, fierce
Imbalance – jealous, resentful, unresolved
Remedy: To bring into balance try honesty and forgiveness.
May 2020 Bee
Love group efforts and to be able to add creative touches to them.
Balance: content, active, vibrant
Imbalance: overworked, annoyed
Remedy: To bring into balance – a mini vacation
June 2020 Starfish
A tendency to be caught up in the shallow, the outward appearance – and to put aside dreams to please others.
Balance uplifting positive artistic
Imbalance gossip emptiness
Remedy: to bring into balance positive friends
July 2020 Golden Egg
Find a place of deep and restful ease — ask the thing that is heaviest in your heart then be open to the answer. The golden egg is the heart chakra, the unstruck sound, anahata. To become a master of this energy, one must become comfortable with being vulnerable. During meditation listen and feel for the sense of the presence of an old friend, then, again, listen.
July then, is a time to deepen my meditation practice, with an emphasis on heart chakra balancing.
August 2020 Lizard
The Lizard is about the 6th sense of clairvoyance. This can lead to fatigue: too much noise, travel, over-stimulation, crowds… The card says it’s time to withdraw, and return to the inner artist.
Balance: artistic, telepathic, spiritual
Imbalance: Elusive, non-committal, flaky
Remedy: Return to balance with a creative project
September 2020 Buffalo
Grounded on Earth, heart and mind rise toward the heavens.
Balance – trusting, pure presence
Imbalance – restless, lacking gratitude
Remedy: To bring to balance: prayer and bhakti
Year 2020 Turtle
Turtle energy is behind all the great story tellers, and this potent energy enables us to close all the other books and tell our own true story.
Balance – peaceful, adventurous, and productive
Imbalance – slows to a halt
Remedy: To restore to balance – Adventure!!!
I found this reading to be inspiring, and incredibly positive. Intuitively I picked up that the ‘worst’ case scenario is in one year finding myself in exactly the same place – inertia – stuck – and to be honest that is not all that bad. On the upside is the potential to have expanded in a way that I could not at this time envision such change if I was asked to guess at where I might be 12 months from now.
In a wonderful bit of synchronicity, Susan’s Year card was Zebra, whose remedy for imbalance was ‘epic adventure’. Adventure has been part of the core of our time together and one of the reasons our relationship works. And here we find ourselves with a wonderfully aligned remedy for our imbalances (which are different), and it’s a thing we both thrive on.
As you can see from the photos, we laugh a lot during these things.
As you may or may not know about me, I have been building bicycles since I was a kid. Wrenching these things was gifted to me by my grandfather who bought me my own toolbox and a 1956 NSU motorcycle, and then taught me how to rebuild a Bing single-slide carburetor. He was an aficionado of fine vintage automobiles and motorcycles, and enlisted me in the process of test driving the motorcycles he restored. My interest in bicycles grew naturally, starting in around 6th grade, and my prized possession was a blue Schwinn Sting-Ray, which was stolen from a friends back yard. Although crushed by the lost, I spent the bulk of my 7th grade year setting aside quarters until I’d amassed enough money to get a Gazelle Tour de l’avenir (Basically a knock off of the Raleigh Gran Prix)… This was a bike I rode constantly, and constantly upgrading.
It wasn’t until after I finished grad school and was into a career, and when my interest in running was temporarily waning that a friend, Peter, introduced me to the sport of mountain biking. It was love at first sight. The bikes were big, sophisticated klunkers designed to be both light and strong, and withstand the rigors of riding over rocks and fallen trees and all manner of stupidity. They reminded me very much of the leggy motorcycles of the early 1900’s I’d grown up riding in the fields of South Bend Indiana.
For many years I bought frames and built some nicely spec’d out rigs for the trails. I began collecting bikes by mistake, with a family to take camping there was always a need for a new bike. But like all things after a time they pass, and so I sold off all but one of the mountain bikes (keeping a Dean Titanium single-speed, which found new life as an urban commuter bike, running 700c wheels), and a old style titanium newspaper boy bike which was lovingly dubbed ‘Frankenbike’ by my mountain biking buddies, and which was always a favorite at festivals.
More about these bikes in a follow up post, I promise.
In my always too long winded way, I have come to the point of telling the intended story. I have for the last 2 years gotten back into building really gorgeous bikes. Not your everyday kind of bike, but like, bicycles that are 1/2 art and 1/2 functional mechanical thingies! And that leads me to this tale, which honestly is one of my favorite of all tales.
It’s one of my favorites because it combines three elements I love about life:
1. Being in a creative space where I excel (that is envisioning a thing and being able to bring it to fruition using my own two hands)
2. Unconditional giving.
When my oldest son Bryan had his bike stolen off his back porch at Occidental College in LA, I decided I’d gift him my Dean Ti SS, but modify it. When he relocated to Blacksburg VA to teach full time there, I modified the Dean into an everyday commuter with a 1×10 drive-train. Nice project. But recently he had expressed a desire to hook up his girlfriend with a bike. We discussed this and it had the feel of a ‘perfect journey’ to me, and took it on.
As I researched frames, styles, trends, and history, I had my ‘A ha!’ moment recalling how I had once bought a Bianchi Milano for my then wife. It was the coolest little whip. Light, agile, easy, and a bunch of super cool features – it was kind of ahead of it’s time. Sadly, it was never ridden, and I chose to sell it during the great purge of 2009. So now, I tossed a search for a Bianchi Milano into the mix. The Bianchi line has evolved a great deal over time, and I think is a bit ahead of it’s time, so I altered my search for the years around the time I owned one, as I saw it as a kind of perfect bike for Bryan and Debra: Campus cruiser, grocery store and farmers market commuter, and still a great all around sport bike for getting out and spinning.
There were VERY few old Milanos out there, but on E-Bay I found one that was very lightly used, and looked to have been kept indoors. I ended up buying it, but the woman selling it was freaking out about shipping the bike. She had completely underestimated the cost of having the bike boxed and shipped. I offered intuitively to ‘find someone’ to simply come get the bike, and then arrange for shipping.
She was okay with that. I then asked Bryan if he retained any contacts in the area (Marina Del Ray, not too far from Highland Park) and reached out to 3 friends I have in the area. Bryan had no contacts he thought would be willing to do this. Of my 3 friends, one sort of spaced on me doing the thing where they’re too nice to say no, but then just forget to ever get back to you until much later… The second immediately said YES, but would have to do it on a weekend, because Solana Beach is a couple hours away. The third friend lives on a sailboat in… Marina Del Ray… yep.
When I met him, he had no car and was completely reliant upon his single speed bike for all of his transportation. I met him while visiting Omkar 108. He was teaching Ashtanga Yoga, and was such a nice guy, that he asked us to post yoga juice… I mean how cool is he already. (Morgan is also a nurse, and author of this blog: Ashtanga Nurse)
Here’s the best part. Morgan explains to me that when he moved from Miami to LA, he did so in advance of having his bike. He had to reach out and found a person in Miami who get this… would have to pick up the bike, then do the work needed to get it boxed up and shipped west. As it turns out, all of this was done as a courtesy, and he ended up paying nothing to get his bike to LA.
Not only was Morgan local, he actually saw a dharma / karma moment unfolding. And his high level of awareness meant that he needed to do this to complete a circle. We sort of laughed at how completely amazing synchronicity can get at times. Being of a like mind, once he had picked up the bike, he located a previously used bike shipping box, and then packaged it up. A few days later it was at my home. I attempted to compensate Morgan a few times, but he refused, as he felt doing so interrupted the cycle of completion.
I unboxed the bike, placed it on the stand, did a thorough inspection, and then stripped it down. I cleaned and repacked the bearings. I got rid of the old dry rotted Kenda Kwest tires, and found a handlebar that was much more like the original stock bar. Even the Bianchi seat with built in tail light was in tact.
I spent a few days removing oxide from aluminum parts, and cleaning and waxing the frame. I placed a pair of 26×1.75 Fairweather tires I had hanging around, replace the cables, housings, brake pads, and sprockets. I reinstalled the Nexus 7 speed internal geared hub and adjusted the settings and brakes, and used sew-on leather grips left over from another project. I ended up with a very slightly modified vintage Bianchi Milano that is in better than new conditions.
The final part of this story happens in August when Bryan and Debra get back from Europe. She’s taken a job at a small liberal arts college in upstate NY. So, the bike will get as far as Blacksburg under my power, and Bryan can take it from there.
This may be my favorite bike project of all time. I will update with a final photo when I decide on pedals. What do you think, a red pedal or a shiny silver one? Or a gray rubber one like they had originally?
FINAL UPDATE! August 29, 2019
Here’s Debra, back from teaching and traveling all summer in Europe, and in her new digs in upstate New York, with the Milano:
I know my blog posts are pretty random. But there is a common thread to all of them, and that common thread is my reflections on my experiences – particularly those that resonate enough to stir the writer in me enough to become willing to create a blog post to share with you .
Recently Susan was gifted a set of “Spirit Animal” tarot cards. Like me, she’s always interested in the study and use of tools that help access the intuitive stream so that we can live a more spiritually based purposeful life, that keeps us fulfilled and in alignment with our souls purpose .
She laid out my cards for the next year and I’m documenting them to give myself ready access.
These are ‘the final word’ or theme for each of the next 12 months:
Power Animal Card Reading August 26 2018
August 2018 – Buffalo – Bhakti and Prayer
September 2018 – Starfish – time with friends
October 2018 – Bear – movement and exercise
November 2018 – Dolphin – Hang with like minded spirits
(I already have the David Keil 50 hour Ashtanga Mysore Immersion booked)
December 2018 – Fish – set and accomplish a small goal
January 2019 – Moth – Finish a project
February 2019 – Oyster – share something
March 2019 – Cheetah – Reconnect to purpose
April 2019 – Gazelle – Yin Yoga, Cozy Home , Good Food
May 2019 – Whale – regular self care (compassionate and steady)
June 2019 – Bat – watch the sunrise 🌅 (trip to an east coast beach)
July 2019 – Butterfly – Daily Routine, be extra patient if you are the butterfly
August 2019 – Black Egg – truth – public speaking, writing, singing
As the year goes by, perhaps I will update this page, or do additional posts. We shall see how it all unfolds!
In pop psychology there is a saying to the effect that everything we desire in life exists outside of this thing called a comfort zone. I’ve been observing this concept gain popularity for years while at the same time feeling on an intuitive level that there are flaws in this paradigm. As I have sat quietly with this over time it’s become clearer to me how this line of thinking is off. At the same time I have witnessed this become a sort of ‘zeitgeist’ culturally, used to try to help motivate people to try something new (which is inherently aligned with the greater good) but it has also become dogmatic. No one thinks about it, and the energy of words – the semantics – are quite important. It is essentially saying that we are no good where we are, and unless we do something that will be uncomfortable we will remain no good. It’s part of the always doing, bigger better, more more more mentality. It’s the opposite of the compassion and grace that have always been the catalyst for major change in my own life.
I hope you’ll enjoy what I am going to lay out in this blog post, and that it can give you the same good feeling it gave me upon my discovery of it. It’s a shift in the paradigm, and it addresses what I feel the shortcomings are. The reason I am even writing this is that I care greatly about personal growth and change that is accessible to all who desire it. We all should feel that ‘being the change we wish to see in the world’ is accessible.
I laughed out loud when I first saw this graphic. It plays perfectly into my new model for growth and change. When I look at this picture I see a guy, frightened, clinging to and hiding behind his rock. He is shaking and his eyes are bulging indicating stress and fear. He is definitely not in a comfort zone. So, what is it then that these 5 steps will help him break out of and into? It would appear to me he might be needing to break INTO a comfort zone.
It has become commonplace to discount comfort. Inherently, there is a bias toward discomfort. Ideologically we crave ‘being comfortable’ but societally we judge that comfort is somehow a bad thing. I would like to propose that comfort is a goal. It’s a temporary resting place. I would add that the pursuit of some form of bliss, some heartfelt desire, is mostly a joyous process, and that the attainment of fulfillment, of being on our soul’s purpose, and of course dharma… these are all joyful things.
Now, what about this graphic? To me it implies that we can either have ‘adventure’ or our ‘comfort zone’; not both. I am a person who loves adventure. I am comfortable with life being one big adventure with the constant pursuit of new adventures being added like chapters to a book we get to write. To me, discomfort is a big motivator. Living a boring, staid life, filled with routines I do not enjoy — that to me is the opposite of adventure and something I have to deal with daily – when my calendar comes out I have to happily build in adventures, or I will get swallowed up in routine.
This next graphic does contain some truth, but it also discounts the concept of the miraculous and spontaneous. It ignores the idea of energy manifesting the most mystical and miraculous changes, awakenings, epiphanies and shifts. These often come in a flash, usually only with the merest suggestion on an energetic level. On the other hand it does speak to a more physical form of accomplishment – it’s unlikely you will learn a new language or run a 6 minute mile unless you actually take training for those things. As an example as a runner for many years people would ask me ‘How do I run faster?’ (How do I prove my race time, my mile time, my pace, etc.) Of course the answer is ‘to run faster you must actually run faster’. In other words, include some speedwork in your routine – change your anaerobic threshold. You may have to do something you have never done. Or, possibly, by having a regular routine, you may also evolve!
Intuitively, this physics model when adapted for personal growth and change makes so much more sense, to me. The Bohr Model for the way electrons change orbitals, in oversimplified terms is how an electron (us) moves around within a space – it’s as far as we can zip around with what we have. But, if energy is added, like let’s say for electrons, light… or for us humans ‘the mind’s wants’ … then increasingly we experience discomfort in the form of agitation, feeling contained, dissatisfied, and as if we are stuck. So, in actuality, we really are in our DISCOMFORT ZONE.
In the world of energy, and in the world of physics, what happens next is that these electrons, are gaining in potential energy, and will finally achieve enough potential energy to ‘jump’ to the next level or orbital, and the process can begin again. And so will we. As our discomfort increases, and as our agitation and potential energy (or energy for change) increase, we are naturally preparing ourselves to ‘jump’ into a new area, into a new ‘comfort zone’… where we can take rest and enjoy our successful transition, reap some rewards, until, inevitably the mind’s wants begin eroding our comfort.
I am here to say – comfort is good. Do not judge comfort for bad. My sense of the origin of this judgement may come from some Calvinian dogma about work ethic, but it probably predates that by many centuries. Discomfort is the thing: it’s the mover, it’s the shaker. This graphic to the left has it all completely backwards, in my opinion. How is a dull life comfortable? How is fulfillment outside your comfort zone? Just getting by, playing it safe, and being full of regret feel pretty uncomfortable even just reading the words. Excitement, Confidence, Happiness do not seem to me at all uncomfortable.
Finally, I would like to discuss this model briefly as well.
Here we see a three tiered model which actually identifies some of the characteristics of stages involved in change and growth. To me it’s a pretty decent model, and aligns with what I have been saying. It’s that when we experience the sensations described in the Red (Panic) Zone, we are in a state of discomfort, and are full of the potential energy for change. From there we convert that potential energy into kinetic energy — we channel our discomfort into change… It’s also ripe ground for deep spiritual work. It is here where our ability to manifest is strongest! Finally when we have made some changes (begun an exercise program, stopped spending money on credit cards, start clean eating, get into a program of recovery, plan a trip…the list of common things goes on and on) we gradually find a comfort zone again. Be very happy. Enjoy these times, because this too, shall pass. Given, again that ‘the minds wants can never be satisfied’, you can trust that new discomforts are pretty much right around the corner. So, be good to yourself, be good to your friends, as you get increasingly uncomfortable, it’s time to look at that. Is it just the mind’s insatiable wants, or is it time to deal with a legitimate discomfort. If it’s time for a change, you’ll know, because the energy of it will propel you through the resistance. It’s the way energy works.
I learn well by looking at images, by drawing things, by seeing things.
When we speak of manifesting, we also must speak of creating the vibration to manifest. I use the analogy of gardening. We know what plants we’d like. We have the seeds. We loosen up the soil. We get everything ready. Then we plant the seeds, and tend to them.
A few years ago I was in a course ‘Intuitive Mastery‘ given by Lori Lipten and one of the sections was using to use chakra balancing, intention setting, and guided journeying as the set up to creating an inspired vision board. I will say that today I jump right into my intuitive stream when doing my vision board, and it is an ever evolving process.
I will usually get an inspiration, or a message. (This wonderful little image to the right is typical of a message that comes into my awareness in perfect timing and which helps guide me in the new direction)
It says, for instance, it is time to revisit your vision board, and to pick out that which has either come to pass to allow room for more growth, to remove that which no longer serves the highest good as we constantly evolve, or sometimes ‘here is the blueprint for your new board’.
So, when I am teaching ‘How to Create a Vision Board’, we necessarily have to get into the art of preparation. Preparing the self, preparing the energy, preparing the space, gathering the materials, even writing out the new blueprint or skeleton. Over time I have come to a sort of hybrid board — a blend of pictures and words. I have also evolved in that I no longer use magazines for my images, but instead use the iPhone and an app called Print Studio (it’s an inexpensive way to get high quality images on durable card stock, in sizes that work really well in my hands).
I maintain vision boards both at home and at work, and both up until this time were only slightly different. Recently however I was given the intuitive message to ‘focus the office vision board on the office, it is currently too unfocused’. Furthermore, I was given the insight to connect actual ‘business milestones’ with actual ‘business necessities’ then to blend in the visions, but to connect them with business realities. In the past I noticed I would manifest something, but then almost always there was a blowback, a setback, or as if there was a net neutral transaction. As such, I have felt stuck in this one endeavour for a few years. My intuition tells me that this new board gives me a chance to manifest when appropriate, and also to enlist my staff and coworkers to be creative and joy-filled but with a cast iron grip on the realities of business, something I had not done in the past.
And so there it is, above. I am looking forward to seeing how this board functions, and grateful for the divine spirit dwelling within. I am also grateful for my ability to share, and my desire to both experience a prosperous life, while also teaching others to do the same.
May you enjoy YOUR unique vision, and come to know YOUR inner voice. May it lead you to your fulfillment.
It’s so sweetly summed up in the words to the song ‘Kindness’, written and performed by the band Quiet Company:
Open up the cloud, let the flood come down and wash the earth.
Carry all the dust and the dirt and the ash of what we were. And the wolves only come at night, but darlin’, you and I, we were made for the light. Open up the clouds, let the flood come down on me.
And I’ll say with all the confidence I have, if your feet are getting tired I can take you on my back, and we will carry one another as we march into the sun, saying darlin’ I will never get enough of your kindness, of your laughter, of your love.
I can hear the trees as they bend in the breeze and they call our names. Calling us forth, we were born from the earth in a golden age. And I walked all across this land looking for a love I could understand, looking for a price that a soul could pay and a blessed plot of land where our bodies lay with a stone put above our heads, it’ll mark our place.
Say that we will always be this way: always moving, always shaking, always building, always breaking. I’m gonna love you ‘til the grave: I’ll make songs of all the things we said, build a monument in the place we met, teach the cynics what it means to be in love.
I don’t care if we are soul mates, twin flames, karmic twins… None. Of. That. I don’t care if we are Lexus, Bentley, Maserati… Magnum, Le Tigre, or Blue Steel.
I care about the little things. Coffee together in the morning if we can. Yoga together any time we can. Moments of connection and kindness. Gratitude. Let’s do the little things well.
I also care about the big things. When we catch ourselves telling some old story, let’s write a new chapter where we do something wonderful and new. Let’s be interdependent, supporting one another in their highest good, no matter what. Let’s be open to helping others, and of being a catalyst for progress and change in our world. Let’s do the big things well, too.
And let’s go on adventures, and create memorable experiences by living in our unique moments.
Let’s defy the norms, the statuses, and the false idols… let’s follow our collective heart.
We get to write this story.
Let’s not be limited by trendy terms, whatever the fad name is for the best relationship ever. We can and are as transcendent and as enduring as any. Here’s to you, Susan, for being all of it.
A few years ago ‘Girls Can Blog’ wrote a fascinating article ‘Why I broke up with Ashtanga’… It’s honest, emotional and raw. The other day I saw it posted again on a social media page for a person I know who apparently has broken up with ashtanga too. This provoked a bout of introspection for me. (Also worthy of note that anytime any of us has broken up with anyone or anything there’s a period of utter contempt and dissatisfaction that was necessary to create the break.) It is a rare trait indeed for a person to say simply ‘this no longer serves me, although it once did, and I am moving in a new direction, with love.’ Instead we often rage at the situation, often creating regrettable circumstances, only later becoming peaceful and compassionate with our own evolution.
The post begins with a simple introduction related to the author’s dedication to yoga, ashtanga specifically, to having been through a teacher training, marrying a male yogi and to being vegetarian then vegan. It’s the quintessential checklist for ‘things a yoga student might do’. And a lot of it, if it being done for reasons other than ‘this is sustainable and healthy for me’ is basically neither.
The author’s first subject heading states that specifically Ashtanga Yoga is a relationship outside of your relationship, designed to be a distraction from, presumably, interpersonal issues one might be avoiding. However my first heading would be:
Ashtanga Yoga is a Quiet, Internal Practice, which uses a series of foci to help the student become an observer of the inner state…
The Mysore method is decidedly different than some other methods which I feel are more externally focused. Those may have trendy playlists, a charismatic teacher giving oratory, a teacher calling poses and cues, but do share the movement to the breath, the sense of shared energy and community. The Mysore method allows the student to take responsibility for learning the sequence, asana, count and dristi… so that the practice becomes the teacher and the teacher teaches the practice. Most of us who regularly practice have experienced that the sensations we experience on the mat are very often strong indicators for how we show up in life, especially as it relates to how we show up in increasingly challenging situations. Part of the magic that occurs is we begin to nurture ‘the observer’ within us. We start to simply observe the sensations as we learn to not be bullied by them. Overall there is a calming, and a developing sense of compassion that extends beyond the mat. I think for me, if it was not this way, I wouldn’t be coming back. There was a time I loved a variety of lead classes, and where I really connected to the chosen lesson a teacher might be weaving in, but ultimately I find the voice inside to be the one that is most compelling.
( I need to add that I find attending my teacher’s weekly lead primary to be critically important in my learning to pace my breathing in a way that helps me bring better tempo to my Mysore practice)
In the next three sections the author discusses how many days a week one exercises, how to handle injuries, and anorexia. Coming from a sports background I can say first hand that the level of intensity and energy a person expends on exercise are both highly individualized and extremely baffling. A fun day for me in summer in college consisted of riding my bike to play soccer, running 3 miles between games, swimming a mile, then hopefully hooking up with friends for some water skiing. And it was fairly common for me for many years to run, then do any other activity. Hours and hours per day. I enjoyed this level of activity. My point is that Ashtanga is recommended to be practiced 22 out of 28 days (One rest day per week, and one moon day every other week. Less for ladies holiday). However I have heard several qualified teachers advise their students to listen to their own bodies. I would add ‘check your motives’ as to why you practice less or more.
I have certainly had injuries. In everything I have ever done. In fact it was a series of painful running injuries that initiated my movement into yoga, which I misunderstood to be radical stretching.
Usually injuries are attributable to violating one of the following: Did I go too far, too fast, too soon? Or the other — did I go for ‘one more’ after knowing I was already tired? I have found the same rule applies no matter what. However, recently I developed a muscle spasm at work. The type that takes your breath away. I showed up for practice, and my teacher worked with me closely to help me experience what felt therapeutic, and what did not. I also saw a masseuse, and a chiropractor twice. My practice was very limited, and we discovered I needed some additional stretching in another area, so we incorporated some new poses into my daily practice. Slow, thoughtful, compassionate, deliberate yoga therapy. I healed up without exacerbating my injury, and learned a new benefit to the daily practice and deeper meaning to the idea of ahimsa and how we practice.
With respect to anorexia, it is a disease, very similar to addiction, and requires outside intervention. I suppose the author may have been referencing the solar aspect to the practice, and people other than me have lost weight, but I have not. There are times I sincerely wish this would kick in. On the other hand, I genuinely feel for all my fellow souls suffering from active addictions — and am here to both assist and hold space as they come to terms with and then are released from the disease. (See ‘outside issues’… below) Once a person has had adequate treatment, then there are amazing benefits from practice, and truly innovative programs like Taylor Hunt’s Trini Foundation which can boost recovery rates substantially.
Next, the author takes on some of my favorite subjects! Chakra balancing, the rabbit hole of ashtanga, about living in isolation, and my favorite kindness to self.
With respect to chakra balancing — it really doesn’t matter whether you’re a believer in the subtle body, the nadis, the meridian system… If it exists, it will exist without your approval. Yet, in all my studies, increasingly there is merit for their existence. And with respect to chakras, I have heard it said, and I utilize this philosophy: One can bring balance to the chakras simply by bringing one’s attention to them. Additionally, if one is so inclined, one can use sound, or light, too. So really, the idea of signing and chanting does have the necessary intention to help restore the subtle energy body to balance.
I suppose the rabbit hole of ashtanga is a thing, it’s just not a thing I have ever heard of. So I will leave that alone.
With respect to living in isolation, I have to say one’s level of isolation is a choice, hopefully based upon their needs. Personally, I am an introvert, but have training to take care of people, and so have developed skills as an extrovert, yet it is not my nature. My Meyers – Briggs is INFP, but I can also test as an ENFP. I prefer a calm comfortable home life. I prefer anything over the mall. I don’t like traffic. I do love a festival, however, and live music. In my work life I literally spend ALL DAY connecting with and engaging with people and trying to give them
direct hands on care, which is quite draining. I look forward to finding the pathway to myself each day as I take practice. And, in contrast from running, where I often looked forward to getting outside my head space, I have found immensely therapeutic value in actually listening and observing the thinking as I move through the series.
If you have an outside issue, seek outside help.
A million times: YES. Although there are cases I am sure where the practice of yoga leads to epiphany and miraculous transformation, if a person is suffering from a serious problem and expecting a quick cure, I am going to have to say – use your yoga practice as an adjunct, to give you space and time to grow as you navigate issues like addiction, eating disorders, PTSD, and relationship / social disorders. There are so many useful healing modalities these days. Make use of them.
I recently read an article in which the author proposed NO ONE participate in seated meditation because a) he had been using it to avoid dealing with a relationship issue for 9 years, and the b) his teacher suggested the physical practice was a meditation. As an independent and intuitive person, I took my red flag and began to ask others about this. My conclusion was this: Never in the history of humankind has a person become a worse person by engaging in peaceful seated meditation. Not only that, even Patanjali states one of the reasons FOR yoga practice is to prepare the student FOR meditation. So, just because YOU have a relationship issue and used your meditative practice to AVOID doing your inner work, it’s not okay for you to put your trauma on me. Boundary set.
The next section was about the method of getting a certification.
If a student becomes proficient at the primary and
intermediate series and wants the KPJAYI credentials – the process isn’t terrible. You need a letter of recommendation from an authorized teacher, and then need to spend a month with Sharath. It may take a couple trips and a couple of years.
On the other hand, Manju Jois, Pattabhi actual son offers teacher trainings, as does Tim Miller (the FIRST authorized teacher) and so does David Swenson. You can study with Richard Freeman, David Williams, the list goes on and on. There are many paths and not all are KPJAYI. You get to choose.
It’s really not that complicated. If you want a certificate, go get a teacher training.
Practice ashtanga IF it calls to you. Then go see a life time teacher who offers trainings. The thing about ashtanga is it takes you years to learn to teach it well — be humble enough to be the student. Take your time, ‘Why Hurrying?’… Oh I know, it’s America. We go too far, too fast, too soon, and wanna make bank. If you want to go to Mysore every year and study with Sharath, then do that. You have choices. You’re not a slave to anything. Be your own damn self.
Regarding the Arbitrary Nature of the evolution of tradition…
It’s now called KPJAYI not the original Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute. Notably absent is the term research. It seems Pattabhi was a bit of a tinkerer.
In fact, Encinitas yogis are the reason that the revolved positions of triangle and extended side angle are in the primary. How about that lift up after utkatasana? Yeah that was put in there the day before they filmed the original video. The joke was that Pattabhi would change things based on what felt right but then never admit he’d changed anything — he was actually doing research, and making changes based upon what seemed best for the most. It’s possible with the many people who now go to Mysore that it is necessary to stick to the script of primary, intermediate, third and fourth (which used to be advanced A and B).
Once you have established a relationship with your teacher, then you together can cater a practice that is more specific to you, your body, your needs and your abilities.
As far as teaching yoga being a profession…
I don’t really know what to say. I know few artists or musicians who went into it for the money and then made big money. What even is that? A career in yoga will be one that’s rich in experiential living, filled with devotion, a loving community, and maybe, just maybe the kind of financial prosperity embodied by Lakshmi, which is one of abundance, but never wretched excess. If a yoga teacher is not coming from a place of love, perhaps it’s best not to trust them when you’re in a vulnerable place, like a yoga practice.
I say, follow your bliss. And if you do follow your bliss, you fill find open doorways where previously none existed (paraphrasing Joseph Campbell).
Lastly, it’s okay to break up with anyone, anytime. Ultimately the reason is ‘because I want to’. Let’s allow others to evolve to grow, to change and to change their minds based upon increased knowledge and awareness. Let’s bring relief to the suffering and compassion to all. And let’s include ourselves in that.