Two approaches to helping people learn anything, or to change anything in their lives: lure them with the promise of treats, like dangling a carrot in front of the horse’s nose; or threaten them with discomfort or pain, like whacking the horse’s rear with a stick.Read More
We modern Western yogis tend to use the term “vinyasa” to describe a sequence of linked, whole-body movements. So “vinyasa” implies movement. But exactly what is moving, what is flowing?Read More
When I first started taking yoga classes in San Francisco back in 1978 practically nobody had even ever heard of yoga (“Huh, what’s that, you mean yogurt?”), and there was essentially no conversation going on about it, not in the streets anyway.Read More
For 40,00 years people have apprenticed themselves, usually to other, more seasoned humans than themselves, in order to learn useful everyday skills – how to gather herbs, how to cook a fish, how to change the oil in the pick-up truck. How to read a book.Read More
The other day, talking to an old friend of mine, he said, jocularly, “After my vacation, let’s get together for another cranky lunch.” “Sure” I said, “Sounds good!”Read More
One of the things I’ve learned in almost 40 years of near-daily yoga practice and teaching is that all the fancy poses at the end of the book, all the gymnastic and pretzel poses, are present from the outset, hidden inside the basic “beginner” poses.Read More
And this happened years before the mighty tangerine took up space in the oval office.Read More
On January 26, 2001 a huge earthquake struck Gujarat in western India, killing over 20,000 people and destroying tens of thousands of homes. In response BKS Iyengar sent 15 of his teachers to stricken villages there to offer free yoga to the survivors. The teachers took with them a sequence of poses devised by Iyengar especially for victims of catastrophes such as earthquakes and hurricanes. (I hope such a sequence is being offered freely in Texas and Florida right now – and, sadly, in many another place around this widely-suffering world.)Read More
Ranging out to the edges, returning home. Finding the periphery, finding the center. Rhythm, in time and in space.
Here’s the poet Robert Hass talking about rhythm: “Repetition makes us feel secure and variation makes us feel free.” Too much security and we feel suffocated, too much variation and we feel unmoored and lost. Hass is talking pretty much just about the effects of rhythm in poetry, but we can broaden our thinking to encompass yoga.Read More
Once upon a time in the west I had a yoga teacher. The three things he said most over the years were:
“Why you rushing?”
“Well, what are you going to do about that?”
“These things take time.”Read More
Remember the game you used to play as a kid: Go to the beach with your family, make a bonfire. Then, picking a moment when your mom isn’t looking, wave your hand through the flames – fast at first so you won’t get singed – but then the game and challenge is to see how slowly you can do it, and still not get burnt.
And what you learn really quickly is that even the slowest wave still has to be pretty fast.
It’s a fun kid game, I hope you all did it, but as a way of practicing yoga, it seems to me not so useful.Read More
One of the finest basket-weaving traditions in the world exists - partly - right here in Sonoma County: baskets woven by members, almost always women, of the Pomo tribe. There are Pomo baskets held by many private collectors and in museums around the world.Read More
We’re going to let the poets take the first steps on this thousand-mile journey.
Many riches are hidden deep in the sea. But if you want to play it safe, stay on the shore.
---Shaadi of Shiraz
A Way Comes Into Being By Our Walking Upon It.
---Chuang TzuRead More
Hatha yoga, as an historical offshoot of tantra, is concerned with the cultivation and uses of the body’s inner energy or power to transform the ego-personality of the practitioner in this lifetime. Hatha yoga wants you to change your mind – in fact, your body/heart-mind/spirit – from a condition of self-delusion and ignorant isolation to a state of cosmic understanding and participation.Read More
In 1969 the poet Gary Snyder wrote and published - for free distribution - a short prose-poem called “Smokey the Bear Sutra” which I’ve included below. In this poem Snyder’s main metaphor is of raging forest-fires of greed and war, oppression and destruction all being put out by Smokey the Bear, an incarnation of the Great Sun Buddha.Read More
One of the goals of any authentic yoga practice is to connect the latent intelligence of the body with its vitalizing energy. How can we use our asana and pranayama practice to disclose and nourish this hidden connection?Read More
Marlon Brando’s famous line from “On the Waterfront”. His older brother had talked him into taking the fall in a series of boxing matches in order to collect gambling winnings…rigging the fights to make some dough.Read More
When you imagine you’ve found your inner guru in your own bosom, you might want to pause and reflect. Don’t get too excited; don’t get too carried away, as they say. Consider that your inner guide might, just might, be delusional.Read More
But wait: “Yoga is the stilling of the actions of the mind.” “When the body, the breath and the mind come together in the present moment, that is yoga.”Read More
What is needed now is not any kind of spacing out or trance, any kind of sedation no matter how pleasant. No wishful thinking or lotus-eating oblivion ever was helpful. Rather, eyes-wide-open focus, determination, patience, compassion, and cultivation of a stronger life-force, a deep inner vitality, are what are required today.Read More