Years ago I worked on a project with someone who showed up one day with a tee shirt that had Yogas Citta Vrtti Nirodhah printed on it. He was clearly horrified that I had only a rough idea what the words meant, and it was fairly obvious that I plummeted in his estimation.
In retrospect I’m a little horrified as well, since I had been practicing and teaching for a number of years at that point. And yet somehow this essential definition of Yoga, “the restraint of the fluctuations of the mind” hadn’t fully registered with me. (more…)
It’s March, and in the (vain) hope that we are on the verge of transitioning from Winter to Spring, I’m going to make the next few pieces about transitions of the Yogic variety.
First up is one of the most important transitions in a Vinyasa-based practice, moving from Chaturanga to Urdvha Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog). When I first demonstrate this transition it often elicits an audible “aahhhh,” I think because students can instantly see how huge the impact is on each of the poses it connects. (more…)
Since so many of us practice a version of Vinyasa Yoga, I’m devoting a couple of pieces to refining the transitions in these powerful sequences. Last week I wrote about the transition from Chaturanga to Urdvha Mukha Svanasana. This week we’ll look at the next transition in the sequence, moving from Upward Facing to Downward Facing Dog.
I recently read an article about a popular Asana teacher who makes a point of eschewing any reference to the less Western elements of Yoga — Sanskrit, chanting, “spirituality” etc — because these aspects supposedly scare Americans away from Yoga and she wants to make the practice accessible to as many people as possible.
I’m all for throwing open the Yoga doors, but rather than simply rejecting the traditions and historical context that separate Asana from aerobics, how about we all just get a little more skillful at translating the parts that might initially seem mysterious? (more…)
As a new Yoga student I remember being told that Savasana (Final Resting Posture) was considered one of the most important and difficult of the postures, and I distinctly recall rolling my eyes and thinking “Puleez, what’s so hard about lying down, I like lying down … Chaturanga is hard, Savasana, not so hard.” (more…)
When I first began practicing Yoga I was only interested in Asana. And not only did meditation hold absolutely no appeal, but I was also completely convinced that I was the one person on earth who was actually incapable of it. (more…)
It’s pretty hard in this day and age not to succumb to the siren call of multi-tasking.
There never seems to be enough time to get everything done, so we try to do many things at once. Which really means we don’t do any one thing fully or completely. (more…)
Recently a student told me she missed the philosophy page that was on my old website, so I decided to revisit what I had written and bring it up to date as a kind of statement of purpose for why the physical practice of Yoga is such an ongoing source of inspiration to me. (more…)
Many years ago I tore my rotator cuff and was complaining about it to Richard Freeman, hoping for some insight about salvaging my Ashtanga practice or at the very least a heavy dose of sympathy. Instead, he smiled benignly and said, “It will be your greatest teacher.”
The New Year is upon us, and with it the promise of transformation, in the familiar form of New Year’s Resolutions. Oh, the pressure.
Like all of us, I’ve had varying degrees of success with resolutions, and I’ve learned over the years how analogous they are to Yoga.
Resolutions are about practicing, not about being attached to results. And the ones that have served me best are the ones that I have approached in that spirit. Many years ago, having “failed” at the previous year’s more epic and grandiose goals (I can’t even remember what they were) I chose just one: “wash my face more often.” I don’t think you’ll be shocked to hear that it worked out really well. It’s a silly example, but it taught me a useful lesson about making choices that are positive and active rather than inspirational. (more…)