Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mark Whitwell

This past weekend we had an excellent opportunity to study with Mark Whitwell at the Yoga Festival of Toronto.

We have had the good fortune of being able to study the ideas and concepts of Yoga with a variety of teachers from all walks of life and, quite literally, from all corners of the globe.

Some experiences are very informative, some bland, some completely distasteful.
The trick is to evaluate what is relevant to us and what is not.

This is a tricky situation. Sometimes the very work we need to do is the work we least want to do. Or for some of us, we are stern task masters that keep taking the joy out of learning and focus on the strict discipline.

Our workshop with Mark was a breath of fresh air. It felt as though we were given the gift of Yoga all over again.

Mark has some simple but profound concepts and principles that he put forth in his classes.

Things like " Do your Yoga, not just any popular American brand of Yoga, but your Yoga"

Or "Yoga is Strength / Receiving, the union of Masculine and Feminine"

Or "Yoga is your direct participation in life as Life"

He reminded us that Yoga is not about attaining some pose or some distant point or goal. It is about receiving the experience we have right now.

What we have been practicing and studying over the years, and what we have taught for that matter, continues to evolve. The time that we spent connecting with the beautiful power of our breath, while peeling away all the rest of the unnecessary baggage, has been one of the most joyful experiences.

What is absolutely fascinating is that we can never know exactly how this will affect or change our future. It makes life magical and wondrous.

Don't be afraid to experiment with your own experience of personal practice. Not one of us will ever fit into a system. The joy comes our of that direct experience.

"Do Your Yoga"

Thank you Mark!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Non Violence

We are taught in Yoga to observe Ahimsa or nonviolence. Great leaders of humanity from all times have also taught these things. Gandhi and Nonviolence are synonymous. So just what is it that they are talking about?

When practicing Ahimsa we first need to remember that this is a universal principle. Meaning that we must consider ourselves in our nonviolent behavior. We also must realize that absolutely perfect Ahimsa is not possible. Even a vegetarian must eat living food of some kind or may inadvertently cause another life form to expire. We can also be extremely hard on ourselves and others, expecting everything to change for the better in a moment. This will put us into a conflict at sometime or another. With our self, with someone we are close to, or even a stranger.

Gandhi said "We must be the change we want to see in the world". However he also didn't say that this had to happen overnight.

Every time I have had an insight surrounding my actions on the Yoga mat or in life there is a period right after where reflection is necessary. Take for example our training as teachers. When something was given to us, whether it was an adjustment or a change in thought pattern, it threw everything we had been investing in out the window. When I had Triangle Posture down, holding my toe and extending fully, I felt accomplished. When I was told that I was doing it wrong and that I was hurting my hip I was taken back. Disillusioned, not wanting to change something that I considered myself good at. At first I wanted to stop practicing it altogether. After all it would be embarrassing if I couldn't demonstrate the full postures to students when I am the teacher and a supposedly advanced practitioner. I wouldn't look perfect.

This internal conflict affects my outer world too. If I have these expectations of myself, what do others feel in my presence. The words that aren't spoken. Is it compassion for yourself?

Ultimately, we all can choose two ways to process this kind of input. I have learned to take the harder road that creates the growth rather than the easier road to decay. Sometimes I do complain and delay that choice though. I am, however, getting more graceful at it.

Finding the way to face myself and the world with more and more Ahimsa.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


I don't know why we have to be committed to something for it to really make a difference in our life, I do know that until we make that leap of faith we cannot participate in the world as a complete human being.

How do we commit to something that will make our lives better?

Why is it so easy not to do the things that are good for us?

I have come to believe that we are a meaning making creature. It has to mean something for us to do it. It has to pull for us to make it through the inertia of inactivity. Frankly, the "because it's good for you" line doesn't have much pull. We need to dig deeper than that.

It is the "what for?" in our lives that really drives us. Money doesn't drive us. What we can use the money for is what drives us. In the same vane, good health doesn't drive us powerfully to commit. Why do we want to achieve good health? Most of us know or believe that to feel and be healthy is a great place to be. Unfortunately that still isn't enough.

Our suggestion to help step up your ability to commit is to consider making the beneficiary someone other than yourself. We all know of parents that will go to great lengths to create the good life for their kids only to fall ill in their later years from neglecting there own health.

We must start to realize that the better health we have, the better it will be for our kids because we will be active and vital in their life for a long time. The better it will be for our parents and siblings. The more we will be able to volunteer when we reach that point in our life. Having good health doesn't just affect us. It saves the earth and all the inhabitants because we will have the wherewithal to make a difference.

A famous business philosopher Jim Rohn says it well. "Take good care of the body, we need it to carry out the wishes of the mind and spirit"

Consider what you could do if you had the energy and stamina to make that difference you want to make.