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The Bhagavad-Gita Answers the Question; When Should I Help?

I was an honorary panel member at the Third Annual  Global Bhagavad-Gita Convention in San Jose this year. Our topic was societal well being. A question was posed from an audience member. When is it appropriate to offer help to someone you see in need? Though I’m quick to opinion it also takes me a bit of ruminating to run the gamut of possibilities that both a question and answer offer and another panelist answered as I was still considering more than my first thought which was a question, Do they want help? That was only the initial thought which lead me to two more questions. Do you want to help? Do you have the capacity to help? The Bhagavad-Gita tells the story of a troubled Prince Arjuna who asks a trusted mentor, Krishna, for help. Krishna is a steady hand and one with authority and investment in the Prince meeting his destiny with integrity and a clear mind. He is the one best suited to help Arjuna through his struggle. The body of these 700 verses is Krishna convincing Arjuna of his destiny and duty. Simply, Arjuna asked for help and Krishna was both interested in and capable of helping. This is a great formula which I use myself on a regular basis when I find myself feeling guilty about not helping or frustrated that I can’t help or even confused about when it is appropriate to help. One doesn’t want to make others powerless by doing their work and more often, one doesn’t want to be the object of anger when trying to help where help is...

Yoga for Relationship

Relationship is comparison, necessary because in isolation there is no measure by which we can define objectively. Things don’t exist in non-relationship. Relationship is most quickly identified in opposition. That requires judgment. That word triggers yoga folks who are stepping all over themselves to practice non-judgment. So that word is repurposed as discernment which takes the subjective opinion out of the picture. That alone might take a lifetime of practice. Everything is relative. True identification takes patience. What is truth anyway? Do you know that in relation to what is false? What is false but its relationship to truth? There must be a neutral jury! What you intuit from your heart must be considered in light of what you know objectively and historically. What’s outside our skin we can only surmise. We use our skin for the knowing in yoga. Sensation clarifies with patience and experience. You are not patient. It is trained out of you. Go faster is your mantra. Life’s become a game of seconds. Split those seconds. Quarter them. Anticipate. Aggravate. Accelerate. Agitate. Yoga is the in between. Yoga is neutral. Brain gray. Yoga preaches patience. Sensation is anything but gray. It is all colors and then maybe just light. You can feel it in the neutral zone of a yoga practice. You are building sensitivity and intuition. Your relationship to yourself colors relationship to other. Put “other” in the neutral zone of yoga to see true colors. Shine your own light to see out there. Notice that relationship is fluid. Relationship is a flow....

WIRED.

  I always ask them, why did you come to yoga today? Most of them stay silent hoping I’ll ignore them or just do anything, anything other than demand an answer. Today a couple of folks wanted a body mind connection.   You will move your body. You will breathe with intention to inspire that movement. That will connect your body and mind. But your mind is a tricky construct created between you and impressions of the world. It is both your protector and foil. You want to connect to more of yourself than that. But the mind says there is nothing more. This is the work. And the work is intimacy that you were trained to avoid.   We are a network of nerves.   What does that have to do with your yoga practice? You came here expecting to move in familiar ways. You came here expecting me to tell you to breathe as if that was the measure of your endurance or consciousness, as if that done with precision will mean the yoga is working.   We see, hear, taste, smell, touch and think of that which comes in from an outside source. We have another sense of our movement in relation to space. Simultaneously, we have internal senses that measure impressions of the world within. These senses dictate our behavior both consciously and automatically.  We are a matrix of nerves wired to compute 24/7. We are not familiar with all of ourselves because all of ourselves is vast beyond present measurement.   People come to yoga for relief and they try to blow past sensations...

Somatic Yoga. Ladybug v. the Beetle

I cleaned out an old desk and found this described in a flyer from a workshop I taught in 2008: Balancing Structure and Freedom The student moving from precise focused alignment to an exploration of the senses will come away with a deeper awareness of asana as the physical expression of yoga philosophy. The student will also be guided to freedom of movement within and without form to create form.   The second part of that workshop presented a study in inductive v. deductive body reasoning which is why an Iyengar student back in the day described my classes as back door yoga. The pose is revealed as the parts come together. You might say, as the parts become organized as a whole.   This is based on my experience of yoga. This is what a yoga teacher offers. It is not regurgitation of something before them.  It is the expression of that information now digested by their unique digestive juices.   My yoga developed during years of dual study in Iyengar and Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement. These practices do not involve opposing subtleties but they are opposing dynamics.  They are taught independently in different worlds of somatics. That informed my teaching at a time few people were studying either. Now I see the online yoga world discovering the benefits of subtle movement .  What felt unique to me is becoming “a thing”. That is a good thing.   But when I wonder what I have left to offer any student that hasn’t been done before, when I become frustrated that I’ve said and done it all, I am...

What Does Karma Have to Do With Your Yoga Practice?

  Karma describes the cycle of action creating a reaction which causes a further action. It is called the wheel of karma because it is a loop. It can indicate a lack of consciousness when the reactions do not reap positive change. In your asana practice it can manifest as non-productive aggression. That aggression results in discomfort. Yet asana is described as a comfortable seat. How do you manage karma in your yoga practice in a yoga class? Mimic the outer form of the posture.  That is the guide and imposition of external force.  That is the action. Then move within that form until it is comfortable. That is the reaction. Extend yourself with your breath into the outer reaches of that form. Adjust again and again until you are comfortable even for two breaths. Hold the space in the pose because you have stability because you can do that now. Be in the pose and don’t push. The breath is all the action you need. Receive and release the breath. Do not force it. If your pose has a positive effect the movement of breath will be pleasing. Recognize the sensation before you feel the need to shift again, because you will, because nothing but death is static.  Notice what ease feels like as the wheel of karma momentarily stops.  ...

Yoga, Hammer and Nail and Threads of Thought

  I’m covering an Iyengar class. As a longtime student of the Iyengar system I am aware of a couple of pitfalls so I take the opportunity as the visiting teacher to offer thoughts and a technique useful in my personal practice.   Tension is not a negative word. Tension creates integrity. Tension is a negative when it is extraneous.   Think of your practice as a carpenter hammering a nail into wood. Once nailed, there is no reason to keep hammering. Step back and appreciate what you’ve created. Consider it.   Give up 20 percent of the effort and notice you are still in the pose. Perhaps you can keep letting go of effort to 50 percent and hold the pose. Think of the form resembling a suspension bridge.   Physical yoga is the application of desire mixed with effort, and then the reflection of that effort’s effect finished with the facility to know when to surrender to what you can and cannot comfortably do. And know that your experience today will likely change the next time. Patience in yoga is not just a virtue but essential....