Great Arm Balance Workshop at Kula Yoga!

Great Arm Balance Workshop at Kula Yoga!

A few more pics from our Arm Balance Workshop this past weekend at Kula Yoga In Port Orange!!!
These pictures are of the Firefly Pose variations and the Tortoise Pose. The first picture is of the Firefly variation with straight arms and the arms and legs perpendicular to the ground. The second picture is of the Firefly variation with bent arms, the elbows at ninety degrees like in the Low Plank pose, and the legs parallel to the ground.

These poses are similar to the Crow Pose and the Crane Pose. The major difference between them is that in the Crow Pose and the Crane Pose the knees are in flexion.
A long time ago — one of my teachers told me that the arm balance poses were just advanced warm up poses. Each of the arm balance poses is just a standing warmup pose done in either Plank Pose or the Low Plank Pose. Later, another teacher told me that it’s not strength that holds most people back in the arm balance poses, its flexibility. It’s good to note that the arm balance poses aren’t going to help you open your hips up a lot but you do have to have open hips in order to do them.
These two Firefly poses are in the same family as the Seated Forward Fold and the Standing Forward Fold. The last picture is of The Tortoise Pose, another Pose in this family and a close relative of the Firefly.
Be careful of your low back when you are working on these poses. Make sure the muscles on the back of your legs are open and you don’t feel pain in your low back.
If you want to get better at these poses work on your hamstring flexibility. The Hand to Foot Pose would help a lot, especially the lying down variation. And work on all your forward folds

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One Legged Crane (Eka Pada Bakasana) Variations.

One Legged Crane (Eka Pada Bakasana) Variations.

I am back in LA! I had a wonderful time at Kula Yoga this past week. It was the perfect end to a 3 month teaching trip. Wow! I can’t believe I was gone for a full 3 months! It’s good to be back. I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight.
Here’s a couple more demo pics from our Arm Balance Workshop yesterday. These two pics are of the One Legged Crane (Eka Pada Bakasana) variations.
Once you are balancing in the Crane Pose, to come into the first variation of the One Legged Crane, try to lift one knee off of your arm and bring it to the middle of your chest, or bring it across your body and tap the other knee. If this is successful, try to straighten the leg behind you. Reach up and back like you are in the Standing splits. It’s hard to keep the arms straight in this pose. Do the same work in the arms and the shoulders as you would in the Crane Pose.
The second variation is easier to come into from Downward Dog. Step your right foot forward. Move your foot to the right and bring both arms inside the right leg. Drop your shoulder and work your shoulder behind your knee. Place your hands down, shoulder distance apart. Now, step your back foot forward and bring your knee to the back of your arm, by your armpit. This knee is in the same position as the Crane Pose. Drop your hips and lean back. Lift the front leg and straighten the leg. The front leg will be in the same position as Koundinyasana 2. Press your arms, lean forward, and lift your back foot. Bend your knee and pull the heel closer to your buttocks

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Crane vs. Crow

Crane vs. Crow

The first two poses we explored yesterday in our Arm Balance Workshop at Kula Yoga in Port Orange were the Crow Pose and the Crane Pose.
I think we sometimes confuse these two poses, or, maybe just refer to them as the same pose sometimes — but they actually are two separate poses.
Kakasana is the Crow Pose. Bakasana is the Crane Pose. I think the confusion partially comes from the challenge of the Crane Pose. It’s hard to straighten the arms in this pose. So, a lot of us are working towards the Crane Pose but our pose might look actually more like the Crow Pose. The Crow Pose is a pretty challenging pose too.
Bring the knees farther forward and outside the arms when you are coming into the Crow Pose, and try to stay low to the ground, keeping the arms bent like in chatturanga.
Bring the knees onto the back of the arms, near the arm pits, when you are coming into the Crane Pose. Press the arms to straight like you would in your Plank Pose or in a Handstand.
Hug your elbows in and push your upper arms out. Externally rotate your arms. Slide the shoulder blades down your back and widen your shoulder blades. Engage your core and extend your spine. Hug the inner thighs in and push them back. Bend your knees and your heels to your buttocks. Point your toes.

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Connecting with Community!

Connecting with Community!

Really fun Shiva Power class at Kula Yoga yesterday morning!!! I enjoy connecting with this community so much. There’s something really special about a community of like-minded people coming together. We are all helping each other along. Find your tribe. Like attracts like and same attracts same. Your energy affects everyone around you. Let your line shine brightly. Some days you will inspire the person next to you and help lift them up. Some days they will inspire you and help to lift you up. Push yourself to work a little harder and challenge yourself to go a little deeper. Go into the fire and stand your ground. You’re surrounded by friends. You’re surrounded by family. You’re not alone on this journey. Take it one step at a time. Breathe into it. Let’s keep moving forward. Thank you, Kula Yoga for letting me join and be a part of your community. Always grateful to spend time with you. Love sharing the teachings of my teachers and love practicing with you. It’s been a really fun week. Seeing how much some of you have grown so far this year is really exciting. I look forward to seeing you all again soon. Namaste

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This is your journey. This is your life.

This is your journey. This is your life.

We are all on this incredible journey, each one of us walking our path. The yogis say our journey is from darkness to light. Samkhya philosophy calls the darkness tamas and the light sattva. Tamas is the quality of stillness, heaviness, inertia — when your body feels stuck, heavy, lazy, and tired, and when your mind is dark, depressed, and you have a lot of confusion, and are living in ignorance. We go first from tamas through rajas before we reach sattva. Rajas is the quality of movement, fire, and intensity. You have to go into the fire. Your practice will be intense. It takes hard work. You are up against old, stuck energy, bad habits, and patterns in your mind that aren’t serving you. Breathe into the fire. Stand your ground. Stay calm and find stillness in the middle of the movement. It’s the balance of these first two qualities that will lead you to the light of sattva. Sattva is the quality of balance, a place where the body feels light and energetic, and the mind is focused but calm. This is the place where the light can flow through you. This is the place where you will be able to experience the true nature of your Self. Keep walking on your path. It’s a long, slow journey. Just take it one step at a time. Enjoy every moment. This is your journey. This is your life.

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Hot and sweaty Shiva Power class this morning!!!

Hot and sweaty Shiva Power class this morning!!!

Hot and sweaty Shiva Power class this morning!!! Great work, everyone!!!
If you are constantly seeking happiness through the senses, you will be on a roller coaster, going up and down, and up and down. The mind is never satisfied. And their will always be more going down on the roller coaster than going up. Even when you get what you want — after a brief moment of happiness, the mind is asking, “what’s next? What’s next? What’s next?”
The yogis understood the mind was constantly falling down and never satisfied. The only way to experience lasting happiness was to turn inward and experience the true nature of the Self.
It’s time to get off the roller coaster!!!

Get on your yoga mat. Concentrate. Stay present. Look at your mind. And let go of the thoughts. Let go of your distractions. Concentrate. Stop getting caught up in the movements of the fluctuating mind. Turn inward. Experience the true nature of the Self.

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Men do yoga too!!!

Men do yoga too!!!

Men do yoga too!!! Hanging with Luke after class today at Guruv Yoga. I sometimes wonder how different our world would be if more men did yoga? The practice is so healing and so beneficial. I hope in the future more men awaken to the idea that yoga is for them too. I can’t believe how much yoga has helped me grow and transform as a person, AND it’s really challenging physically and mentally. You want to be a better athlete? Do yoga! Train your mind to concentrate so you can accomplish more and work more efficiently? Do yoga! Reduce stress and prevent injuries and disease? Do yoga! Hang out with a room full of hot and sweaty beautiful women who are impressed that you are the one guy who “gets it”? Do yoga! What are you waiting for guys? It’s time to get on your mat.

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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.”

“I am Yogi Gupta, I am Yogi Gupta, I am Yogi Gupta.”

A happy belated birthday to my teacher — Dharma Mittra, who turned 80 yrs old last month. I’m so excited that I will be able to see Dharma this week while I am in New York. I’ve been lucky enough to take 3 Teacher Training programs with Dharma over the past 8 yrs and have come to New York on several additional trips for intensive study.
Dharma sometimes shares a story about practicing with his teacher, Swami Kailasananda — Yogi Gupta. He talks about focusing intensely on copying the teacher, trying to become like the master himself. We walk in the shadows of the great teachers who have come before us. We try to follow in their footsteps. We keep moving things forward, and our students are right behind us. As Dharma would say, “we are all just helping each other along.”

“Copy the teacher, copy the teacher, copy the teacher.”

“I am Dharma Mittra, I am Dharma Mittra, I am Dharma Mittra.”

Feeling grateful for this moment and everything that has led to this moment. Thank you, Dharma.

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On to the next adventure!

On to the next adventure!

On to the next adventure!!! I’m flying to New York today. It’s a long journey. First to Chongqing. I have a layover and then a direct flight from Chongqing to JFK. It’s been an amazing trip so far. These last 2 weeks in Shanghai have been a lot of fun. I’ve met a lot of new students and made a lot of new friends. My first stop on this trip when I left Los Angeles was to New York. Feels like a long time ago! I’m excited to be back in New York. Hoping to get a practice in with Dharma. I’m teaching 3 special event Shiva Power master classes at Pure Yoga this week. If you are in New York please join me for a class. These classes are super affordable and free to Pure Yoga members. I’m teaching as part of the Visiting Teacher Series. Hope to see you there. Namaste. See you again soon, Shanghai! And to everyone in China — thank you for being such amazing hosts and treating me so well these last 2 months.

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Do You Really Love Yourself?

Do You Really Love Yourself?

I was talking with an old friend today over coffee about love and the deep Soul connection kind of love that is so hard to find. I think we often confuse love with the lust. Just like we often get confused about who we really are and the true nature of the Self. Do you really love your partner? Or are you seeking their love? Love is kindness and compassion. Love says I want the best for you and I want you to become the best person you can be. Love is two people walking down the road together, headed in the same direction. You are responsible for your own happiness. I am responsible for my own happiness. I enjoy your company but I don’t need you.
I think before you can really love anyone or anything you have to learn to love yourself. And in order to love yourself, you have to get comfortable with yourself. Sit in stillness. Be alone. That person you are attracted to doesn’t have the answers to your problems. You have the answers to your problems.
The work you do on yourself is the most important gift you can give to the world. Go into the fire. Let your stuff come to the surface and let it go. Cleanse your body and cleanse your mind. Clear out that old stuck energy and make same space.
Are you ready to love someone? Or are you just looking for someone to love you?

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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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Standing in Stillness.

Standing in Stillness.

I love this shot with my yoga brother, Richard in Shitang last month for the Zhejiang Yoga Cultural Festival. Richard is so inspiring! He’s been here in China for 20 yrs. He speaks mandarin beautifully. He’s a great yoga teacher and a really good guy too. We went on this adventure one afternoon with the owner of Haipoo Yoga. It was such an interesting day. Lee took us to these incredible caves near where he grew up and we got some beautiful shots. I think this was shot with a drone. I like that it’s simple. Stand in mountain pose in stillness. Think of the qualities of the mountain — big, tall, strong, stable, grounded, and still. Yoga doesn’t have to be a fancy pose. Sit in stillness and concentrate on one thing. Or stand in stillness. This is the hardest practice. The Jain monks used Tadasana as a meditation practice. It’s a really important pose in Jainism. Fun hanging with you, Richard! Namaste.

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A hot and sweaty Shiva Power class at Float Yoga!

A hot and sweaty Shiva Power class at Float Yoga!

A hot and sweaty Shiva Power class at Float Yoga! Thank you, Stella for inviting me to teach at your studio. It was a really humid day and, WOW, did we go into the fire!!! Strong students!!! Great job, everyone. It was fun practicing with all of you. I’m looking forward to seeing you all again soon.


Sit in the fire and let it cleanse you. Let your stuff come to the surface and let it go. There’s no spiritual by-pass. You have to go through it all to get to the other side. It’s messy. It’s intense. It’s uncomfortable. Sometimes you leave it all on your mat. Sweat, tears, frustration, anger, sadness? What are you working through? What’s coming to the surface for you? Are you looking at your stuff? Are you ready to look in the mirror and see the truth? This is the practice. This is yoga. Fire is the catalyst. You are sharpening your sword. You are cleaning your pot. Transformation isn’t easy. Change isn’t easy. Undoing patterns and working through old stuck energy isn’t easy. But it’s worth it to take the journey! It’s SO worth it. Just get on your mat. Start walking down the path. One step at a time. Namaste.

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How old were you when you first started practicing yoga?

How old were you when you first started practicing yoga?

How old were you when you first started practicing yoga? Fun pictures at the Guangzhou Dreamer Yoga Festival.
My first yoga practice was when I was studying acting in the UK at RADA for a summer program. We did yoga in one of the movement classes. I don’t know if they were allowed to call it yoga back then because of the perceived connection to religion. I looked back on what we were doing when I started practicing regularly after I’d returned home from the program and realized we’d been doing yoga in some of our movement classes

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“He who teaches and doesn’t practice is a fraud. And he who practices and doesn’t teach is a thief.”

“He who teaches and doesn’t practice is a fraud. And he who practices and doesn’t teach is a thief.”

Our final Shiva Power class at Haipoo Yoga yesterday morning! A deep Twisting class with extra core work to prepare for our afternoon Handstand Workshop. This was a really fun group to work with and I’ve enjoyed watching everyone grow a lot in just a few days. We managed to cover some yoga philosophy and I had the students read and discuss five of my published articles on different aspects of the practice as well. I am confident that I shared as much as I could in our 3 days together. I think the greatest thing we can do as teachers is share everything we have with our students. If we do a good enough job they won’t need us anymore. Ideally, we want to eliminate ourselves from the equation altogether. Everything I have is yours! The way we honor our teachers and pay back the debt we owe to them is to share the teachings and become teachers ourselves. There’s an old yoga saying — “He who teaches and doesn’t practice is a fraud. And he who practices and doesn’t teach is a thief.” Better not to be either one.

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Keep your mind open. Listen. There’s so much to learn.

 Keep your mind open. Listen. There’s so much to learn.

Sometimes the students inspire me so much! This student came to my class on Sunday afternoon in Fuzhou. She worked so hard! She listened to everything I was saying and paid such close attention to my cues. And she tried so many advanced poses and variations, even though many of them were out of reach. I was so proud of her. And the whole time she smiled and even laughed a few times when she fell out of some of the more challenging poses. I love teaching students like this. They are so easy to teach. No ego. So much light. The irony is that these students are already practicing so much of what we are teaching in yoga. They don’t need the practice as much as some of the students who are the hardest to teach. Sometimes students are rude and disrespectful and don’t pay attention and don’t listen. It’s hard to teach these students. Their mind is closed off. But really they need the practice most of all. Master teacher, Krishnamacharya has a famous quote about only wanting to teach the beginners and the really advanced students because they both know that they don’t know anything. He said the ones in the middle, the students with a little bit of knowledge who think they know everything are the hardest to teach. Keep your mind open. Listen. There’s so much to learn. Be a good student. Learn as much as you can from the teacher. Are you done learning? Is there no more room for growth? Really? You’ve got it all figured out? There is so much more to learn. You just have to stay open.

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Yoga is constantly asking you to look at the truth.

Yoga is constantly asking you to look at the truth.

Yoga is constantly asking you to look at the truth.
Where are you at in this moment? Right here? Right now? Look at your strengths. Look at your weaknesses. There is no spiritual by-pass. You’ve got to go through your stuff in order to get to the other side. You’ve got to sit in the darkness before you can see the light.
What’s your relationship to the truth? Stand your ground. Hold your focus. The Universe is testing you. Are you really ready for this moment? Are you really ready to be this vulnerable? Look at the mirror. What do you see? What are you learning about yourself?
It is our acknowledgement and acceptance of the present moment that allows for our growth, and allows us to integrate the disconnected parts of ourselves. What are you not ready to look at right now? Maybe it’s time to have a look. It’s time to go through the fire, and get to the other side.
Let your practice break you wide open. Let it break you down. You are cleaning your pot. You are cleaning out the closet. Put in the effort. It’s worth it. Time to get on your mat!

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Ride the wave!

Ride the wave!

Sometimes you just have to surrender and go with the flow. The Universe has a plan for you. Ride the wave!
I’ve been in Taishan and Guangzhou the last 3 days. I’d never been to either city. Didn’t know any of the people I was meeting. Didn’t even know where I was staying. Just hoped the studio owner’s would pick me up at the train station.
Am meeting such lovely people and we are having so much fun. Enjoying meals together, practicing yoga together, laughing, and connecting.
I love this selfie I took on Friday night. This is Sandy, the owner of the studio in Taishan and Stella, my translator for the class I taught at the studio. They are both so nice!
I was talking with Sandy and her husband, Ricky about how my teacher Dharma always says that like attracts like and same attracts same. What’s the vibration you are putting out into the world? You will attract people who are vibrating on a similar level. Light attracts light. If you want to change your experience of the world — shift your perspective. Change your relationship to your Self and notice how your perception of the world changes. It starts with you!
Ride the wave! Let go! Let it go!

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