Urdhva Mukha Vrkshasana! Upward Facing Tree Pose.

Urdhva Mukha Vrkshasana! Upward Facing Tree Pose.

Urdhva Mukha Vrkshasana! Upward Facing Tree Pose.
Another cool shot from my photo shoot with fellow yogi and yoga teacher, Richard Baimbridge.
Yoga has been so good for me on every level. It’s exciting to see more and more people embrace the practice and see how it’s changing people’s lives. When I first started practicing there were hardly any men practicing. When I did my first Teacher Training program I was one of three men in the training and there were over fifty women. I love seeing more guys getting on their mat and experiencing the benefits of the practice. Yoga is not just for girls. Guys! This practice will challenge you on every level and will kick your butt. And there’s nothing I’ve found that has the same effect on the mind. If you want to change your life — this is where it’s at. Concentrate, connect to your breath, turn inward, and experience a deeper connection to yourself.

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Copy the teacher! Copy the teacher! Copy the teacher!

Copy the teacher! Copy the teacher! Copy the teacher!

Copy the teacher! Copy the teacher! Copy the teacher! My teacher, Dharma is a master at the Head Balance pose or Headstand. You might have seen him in pictures balancing with no hands? Dharma tells this great story about practicing with his Guru and doing his best to copy his teacher during one of the practices.
We are following in the footsteps of the master teachers who have come before us. Think of how incredible it is that we don’t have to search in the darkness alone for the light. There’s others who have come before us who are a little farther down the path. All we have to do is follow in their footsteps. So grateful for Dharma and all my wonderful teachers. I am doing my best to follow in your footsteps. Copy the teacher! Copy the teacher! Copy the teacher!

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Remember "It's just the mind."

Remember "It's just the mind."

Last night my mind was very heavy. I was working on a technical problem with my computer and the cloud and on the phone with a support specialist. It was a long day too. I was getting tired and feeling overwhelmed with the situation. We kept trouble shooting the problem and couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
I could feel myself getting frustrated. I could feel the emotions coming up. I tried not to get attached to them. It was hard. I was agitated.
One of the things that helped me shift my perspective was remembering one day a few years ago, coming up the elevator to the Dharma Yoga Center during one of my trainings with my teacher, Dharma Mittra. I asked Dharma how he was doing and he surprised me when he said that his mind was very heavy that day and very sad. There was a pause and then he shrugged and laughed and said, “but it’s just the mind” and gave me a knowing look, and I understood a little better the concept we talk a lot about in yoga of shifting our perspective.
I always remembered that morning. And it helped a lot last night. I could feel myself getting caught up in my thoughts and the anger and frustration I was feeling. I kept telling myself — it’s just the mind. Let it go. It’s not you. It’s just the mind.
I went to bed and slept well last night and woke up feeling very light and energized. I remember thinking that It was so silly that my mind was so upset and agitated last night. And even sillier that I was getting agitated and upset too.
The mind is always going to be on the roller coaster. But it doesn’t mean that you have to be too. You’re not the thoughts. You’re not the emotions. You are the space between the thoughts. You are the witness of body and mind activities.

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Some Poetry by Rumi

Some Poetry by Rumi

Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror up to where you’re bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead, here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced as birdwings. — Rumi

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Teaching my students different ways for beginners to come into the Bound Head Balance Pose.

Teaching my students different ways for beginners to come into the Bound Head Balance Pose.

Teaching my students different ways for beginners to come into the Bound Head Balance Pose. The ‘Tug of War’ actions in the arms and the shoulders will keep pressure off the neck. Once you are comfortable balancing, take your gaze to the middle of the eyebrows and concentrate. Let the Pose work on you. The Head Balance Pose is good for the heart and the cardio-vascular system and good for the spinal discs, which need to be squeezed in order to get nutrients. More importantly — this pose is a mudra, and has an effect on the nervous system. Combined with the Shoulder Stand, it helps to bring about a state of balance. In Raja Yoga — we work towards a state of Sattva, a place where the mind is fit for concentration, meditation, and Samadhi. In Hatha Yoga, we work towards perfect balance, a place where the Kundalini force awakens, a place where Samadhi automatically occurs.

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It's all unfolding perfectly.

It's all unfolding perfectly.

Our last day of practice together at Kula Yoga this past weekend! Shiva Yoga® Maha Sadhana — honoring our teachers and celebrating our practice. Lots of partner yoga! What a fun afternoon and way to end a long weekend of practice together. Everybody was tired and sore and still brought such a positive attitude and still practiced really hard. So grateful to this group! I find I rarely am feeling “perfect” when I get on my mat. Something is always sore and I’m often tired. Yoga has taught me to show up anyway and do my best. You can move from darkness to light. It’s just a choice. The conditions will never be perfect. Just show up anyway and do your best and don’t worry about the results. Just breathe into whatever comes your way. And have faith that it’s all unfolding perfectly.

 

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Sun Salutations.

Sun Salutations.

The Sun Salutations are a big part of yoga. The Sun is another symbol of our inner Light. We connect the idea of the lightest and brightest thing in our world with the lightest and brightest (and most subtle) aspect of who we are.

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So many distractions.

So many distractions.

A deep Shavasana in one of our Shiva Power® classes here in Cabo in my Shiva Yoga 200hr Teacher Training program. I love supporting these students on this journey. It’s wonderful to hold space and witness their transformation. I can’t believe how fast the time is going, though. I was talking yesterday before class in my Dharma talk about how fast we are moving and how much we are running — always so busy, so many distractions. We are making our lives so complicated. People often tell you proudly when you ask how they are doing, “I’m busy! Really busy!” I don’t know if this is such a good thing? Slow down. Find more balance. Make some space. Find stillness. Everything is passing by so fast. Make sure you don’t miss it because you were so busy.

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You are a microcosmic expression of the Universe.

You are a microcosmic expression of the Universe.

“The Head Balance is the dad, the Shoulder Stand is the mom, and the Fish is the son!” — Sri Dharma Mittra

Tantra Philosophy takes a closer look at the perfect balance between masculine and feminine.

What happens when masculine and feminine come together in perfect balance?

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Imbalance Leads to More Imbalance!

Imbalance Leads to More Imbalance!

Imbalance leads to more imbalance! You don’t automatically go towards balance. The mind is drawn to things you are already good at doing and really good at avoiding doing the things you aren’t good at doing. What are your favorite poses in yoga? What are the poses you are good at doing? What part of the practice do you really like? You don’t need to do more of these poses? You need to work on the things you don’t like doing! You need to work on the things that you aren’t good at doing!

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If you never try and fail, you will never find success!

If you never try and fail, you will never find success!

Once you have mastered balancing on your head in the Bound Head Balance and the Tripod Head Balance -- it can be fun to practice transitioning between these poses and other more advanced Head Balance variations. I learned so much about the Head Balance Poses from my teacher Sri Dharma Mittra. Dharma is a master at transitioning between Head Balances when he’s upside down and even balancing on the head with no hands. I’m not very good at these transitions yet but I find them a lot of fun. Some days I can balance on my head with no hands for a second or two and some days I can’t really find the balance at all. Always remember to have fun and keep your practice light. Be playful! I think we fall and fail at things we try 1000 times before we find the balance and find success. But if we never try and never fail we never find success. It doesn’t matter what your poses look like. It matters if you try. Get out of your comfort zone. Put forth your best effort. Let go of your expectations and let go of the results. Just show up and do the work. This is Karma Yoga. If you fall, don’t worry, no one is watching and no one really cares, except maybe you, and only if you are identifying with your ego.

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What is Yoga Therapy?

What is Yoga Therapy?

Really interesting conversation with one of my students yesterday about Yoga therapy.  There's so much confusion about Yoga therapy.  There's so much confusion about Yoga in general too.  So, what's the difference between Yoga and Yoga therapy?   

Yoga can be a very healing practice for the body but that's not it's purpose.  The goal of yoga is to quiet the mind, find stillness and experience a deeper connection to your Self.  

I gained a lot of healing benefits from my asana and pranayama practice when I first started practicing yoga but that wasn't the goal of the practice and wasn't the main benefit that I experienced from my practice either.  By changing my relationship to my Self through my yoga practice I have changed my relationship to everything and everyone else.  The physical benefits I received because of my practice have just been a bonus.  I am more flexible and stronger and my body is much healthier because of my practice but ultimately these things haven't changed my life.  

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Hanuman is the symbol of perfect balance.

Hanuman is the symbol of perfect balance.

Hanuman is the symbol of perfect balance and also represents the bridge to the Ultimate Reality, the experience of the true Nature of your Self, and through that experience, your connection to the Universe. 

This picture was shot in one of the Temples in the jungle in Bali. It’s hard to see it in the picture but I’m doing the pose on this small grass walkway that is separating two rice fields. The walkway is pretty narrow. The field on this side is just a short drop into the mud, but still, into the mud. The field on the other side is about ten feet lower. A long drop into the mud! I managed to find balance and not drop into the mud, but there was a pretty high probability that was going to be the end result of getting these shots. Lol 😂. See you on your mat!

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The Journey from darkness into the light.

The Journey from darkness into the light.

The Peacock is a symbol in yoga of Sattva, which means light, clarity, illumination. The reason the Peacock is a symbol for Sattva is because of its feathers. When the peacock opens its feathers it looks like a thousand eyes are looking at you. These eyes symbolize the light moving through you from within and your awakening. The Peacock pose is a great example of how hard it is to achieve this state of Sattva too. It requires a tremendous amount of strength and flexibility, and a tremendous amount of balance.

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