Go guerrilla with your yoga & get it on by any means necessary
Not so long ago, I overdrew my account in order to spend a weekend with one of my favorite teachers at Esalen. Last week, I threw my mat down outside in my tiny backyard and embarked on a home yoga practice because getting to class and paying for it just seemed like too much effort… but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let my yoga practice give me the slip!
My spending and accounting habits aside, I know what it’s like to do anything to get your yoga on. And, for years, I’ve been trying to provide easy ways for people to do just this. Because it’s so important to me, and because I wish that someone had done this for me all those years ago.
When I first started yoga, I was in college. Thank goodness I was taking a class at a gym where they offered a steep student discount so I could afford classes. But, as soon as I graduated, I couldn’t afford my yoga. You know what I did? I became a yoga teacher through a cheap weekend certification simply so I could take classes wherever I taught… for free. Things evolved, and eventually I committed to teaching yoga and got certified through other trainings (a few times over, really, which was an expensive habit!).
3 Reasons Why Yogis Need to Love Technology
Forget the yogi in the cave.
Spiritual practitioners often have a reputation for being tech-illiterate. While I know this isn’t true in many circumstances, here’s a short list of ways that technology can actually help connect us more fully to the amazing wonders of yoga and spiritual practice.
1. Meet teachers you’ve never practiced with and try out different yoga styles.
This is probably my favorite of the list. For several years, I practiced almost exclusively to yoga podcasts and downloads. It was a fantastic way to tap into the resources of phenomenal yoga teachers from across the country (and across the globe). Yoga downloads, podcasts and streaming video give us the opportunity not only to take class with teachers that we’ve heard about, or that others have recommended, but it also gives us a chance to practice new styles of yoga right in our living room.
Downloading great classes onto our laptop, iPad and other devices makes our yoga mobile and puts the power of our practice back into our hands. If we’re tied up at work and miss yoga class, no problem, because class starts anytime we want. Also, we can find classes that are the perfect length and level. It’s all at our fingertips. With the advent of awesome websites like Yogadownload,YogaGlo and Ihanuman, there’s never an excuse to miss our practice. It’s virtually there, 24/7.
Am I a Yogi If I’m Not a Vegetarian?
For many in our modern yoga culture, ahimsa has exactly one translation: vegetarianism, or potentially more focalized: veganism. I understand this and for most of my life, I have adhered to this practice. However, there’s something wrong with this translation of ahimsa. It’s not completely accurate.
Ahimsa, if we break down the word, simply means the absence of violence. It’s a much broader stroke than this one focused idea. Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutra where the directive of ahimsa is cited for yogis, goes on to add four other suggestions for how we can become compassionate contributors to society: truthfulness, non-stealing, conscious intimacy and non-hoarding. He’s pretty specific with these suggestions, but nowhere does he give us the exact, one practice that is going to cover all this moral high ground.
Touch Me, Baby: The Magic of Yoga Adjustments
Adjustments seem to be a lost art.
I have been to many yoga classes where the instructor never so much as places a pinky on me. In our modern-day society of litigation and miscommunication, hands-on adjustments in yoga classes can be both tricky and sticky business.
But, we love ‘em. I know we do. I hear it all the time—from the students who clearly remember the first time an instructor helped them into wheel pose to the student next to me on the mat sighing in relief as an instructor helps steady them in tree pose.
Students benefit greatly from hands-on adjustments by learning proper alignment, experiencing a deeper expression of the posture with the help of skillful guidance and most importantly, by receiving human connection.
Seven Reasons Calling Yourself a Yoga Teacher Sucks
I love being a yoga teacher. It’s been an integral part of me and my life for more than ten years. I’m still uncomfortable with telling people that I teach yoga for a living. Here’s why:
1. People basically see us as a fitness instructor. Don’t worry, I’m not hating on fitness instruction. That’s a valuable and important part of health in our society. However, most of us don’t just lead people through physical exercises. As for myself, I teach philosophy as much as I teach alignment (some might say even more so), and I encourage people to let go of whatever prevents them from being happy and free.
I’ve studied anatomy, physiology, alignment, philosophy and eastern traditions and weave that all through classes that include chanting and live music. I know many other instructors do the same. It’s not just about fitness, dammit! Rock hard abs aren’t our goal, supreme freedom is!
The Power of Prayer
No matter what kind of yoga we practice, or where we practice it, in most classes we will bring our hands into a prayer position at least once during any class. This simple gesture holds a lot of potency for the yogi, regardless of our background or beliefs. It’s a gesture that holds hope. Hope is a core quality of our humanity. Without hope, we wither and suffer, and we become utterly disconnected. This leads to depression and even antipathy. Hope is what gets us through the most trying times and helps us to make the best of the best of times.
Why Is Lotus Pose So Darn Hard?
The quintessential yoga posture is lotus pose, orpadmasana. We see grand images of yogis in lotus on book covers and in magazines, but the reality is that few of us can successfully do this posture. Why is that?
Warrior Pose: Understanding the Spiritual Warrior
The warrior poses (virabhadrasana 1, 2 and 3) are some of the most iconic postures in yoga. Students are often encouraged to embody the spirit of a warrior as they’re standing in these formidableposes. Understanding the mythological background of these martial postures illuminates what a spiritual warrior actually represents.
How Not to Hate the Splits
Ever end up in a yoga class and the instructor suddenly calls out, “Hanumanasana! Splits pose!” Well, it doesn’t have to be as dire with a few simple tricks to help open the body in just the right way.