Saturday, August 01, 2009

New York Yoga's Teacher Training Program

So the current teacher training program at New York Yoga is going really well. It has been an amazing experience directing the teacher training program over the past year and a half. The current group is a great group and it is inspiring to see how much they have learned so far. It is always very interesting to see people's practice deepen, them begin to be able to do postures that they were previously unable to do, and their skill and ability to lead others through practice develop and come together. We are more than half way through the training and New York Yoga is doing something interesting where the fall Teacher Training Program which is coming up soon, will start before the current summer teacher training program ends. One of the great benefits of this is that the fall teacher trainees will be able to see what they summer teacher trainees are doing as they get nearer to testing and graduation. Having the new group able to see the old group and having the old group able to work with the new group and remember where they started from is very valuable in the learning process.

This weekend, Sunday August 2nd at 6:00PM, I am hosting an open house for the fall teacher training to answer any questions prospective trainees might have about the program. I will also host another open house on Sunday August 30th at 6:00PM.

For more information about New York Yoga's Teacher Training Program go to:

http://newyorkyoga.com/index.php?content=training_fall09

or here:

http://www.newyorkyoga.com/

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Another Quote from Ram Das, Paths to God

I like this quote. There is a lot in here:

Now, in a way, purification I s a hype. You take your body, just as it is, and your mind, just as it is, and your feelings, just as they are—and right here, in this very place, lies the Brahman, the enlightened state. It’s right here! It’s not there or then, it’s not in India or Tibet, it’s not being kept secret by “him” or “her,” it’s not in this book or in that book. It’s right here, and you are it—right now.

Okay, so then what’s the point of purification? What, in fact, is the point of any of these practices if we already are the Brahman? They’re to get rid of whatever in us prevents us from really knowing who we are at this moment. See, from a practical point of view, we’re faced with an interesting paradox. At one level of our intellectual understanding we know that we already have all the riches—we know that we are the atman, that we are the Buddha, that we are free. We know all that. But if we look inside, we’ll notice that although we know it, we somehow don’t believe it. And that’s what all the purification methods are about: getting us from where we seem to think we still are, to where we don’t think we’re anywhere anymore. Hence we have all these practices, like karma yoga and jnana yoga, like sacrifice and mantra, like renunciation and purification. All of them, by one route or another, are designed to get around that roadblock between our knowing and our believing.

P 128 Ram Das, Paths to God: Living the Bhagavad Gita

Monday, July 27, 2009

Quote from Ram Das, Paths to God: Living The Bhagavad Gita

This is a great quote from Paths to God: Living The Bhagavad Gita by Ram Das

Those of you who have been in human relationships where real love was present recognize experiences in which the well-being of your beloved was more important than your own. You’d offer your own discomfort to ensure their well-being. If you can extrapolate from that experience to a time (called the Satya Yuga) when everybody makes that kind of offering in relation to everybody and everything else, you’ll have a taste of what it is like to live in the Spirit. (P. 111 Ram Das Paths to God.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bujangasana, Cobra Pose Variation for Lower Back Strengthening

This gentle but strong movement can be really useful for the strength and health of your lower back.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana

This is a gentle movement with the breath. It is interesting how repetitive movements like this, where you are linking the movement with the breath really do far more than you might realize just by looking at it. One of the secrets to a movement like this is that the movement is really synched up with the breath in a way where the breath starts first and the breath finishes after the movement so that the breath envelops the movement. That takes a lot of concentration. Another aspect of this is the way in which you are breathing. If you are inhaling into the chest first while keeping the lower part of the abdomen gently pulled inward a little, the breath while help your body move and cause the movement to be initiated by the breath and the core. This will actually help you improve your movement mechanics in ways that you would not even expect. My experience has been that, as a result of doing movements like this where I am focused on simple, clean movement mechanics and connecting the movements with the breath, it makes it much easier for me to to do many of those more complex looking movements like the floats, because movements like these teach your body how to move with control. These seemingly simple movements are truly well worth taking the time to work on.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Turning Downdog Split Upside Down into Full Wheel

This is a video that shows two versions of turning Downward Facing Dog over. In the first version I go part way over and do not take both hands to the floor. In this pose the outer edge of one foot stays on the ground as that leg stays long and straight with the foot turned out to help lift the hips. Sometimes when people turn the pose part way over and leave that top hand off the ground they still turn their feet parallel to each other and are in a pose that is a lot like Four Legged Table, Chatur Padapitam. The pose where the leg stays turned out with the leg straight and the outer edge of the foot on the floor is much more powerful than if you turn the feet parallel to each other and have the soles of the feet on the floor without taking both hands to the floor. The second variation shows turning the pose all the way over into Full Wheel, Urdhva Dhanurasana (Which literally translates as upside down bow). In this variation you can see how the first variation, as an intermediate step is part of the process of turning the pose all the way over

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Jumping Through to Sitting Broken Down in Stages

This video breaks down the process of jumping forward through the hands to sitting. It gives a few techniques to work on that would help you develop the ability to jump through the hands to sitting incrementally, safely, intelligently. I don't think the end result is really the issue. I think the work you get during the process of trying while keeping yourself safe, is the actual thing you are looking for. The work in something like this should be fun and enjoyable. If it is not, there are other things that would be more beneficial.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Jumping Forward into Crow Broken Down in Stages

This is a video that breaks down the process of jumping forward into Crow Pose into a few stages giving the practitioner a few techniques to practice that would help develop the skill of floating forward and placing the knees on the arms. I have seen people teach how to jump so that you stay low and aim the knees at the arms and get them to land. In my opinion it would be more valuable to work on developing the skill of holding your weight, balanced over the arms, floating, hovering above the arms, and placing the knees softly onto the arms with control. Even if you never are able to do this, I think it would be more valuable to work on the techniques that would help you develop that core strength than to learn how to simply jump the knees at the arms.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Philosophy is in the Practice

It is always interesting to me how the philosophy is really contained in the practice but then, being human, and having a brain that wants things to be one way, easy to understand, we end up trying to rigidify practice into sets of rules about right and wrong when really practice and reality are about experience and being conscious, connected, aware and letting things flow, not grasping onto things and trying to make them concrete when they are really transparent...liquid. But that bipolar manner in which our mind works, wanting things to fit into simple categories, good-bad, right-wrong, up-down, hot-cold, we only think these things are real but they are perspectives, they are relative terms.

One of the ways I try and explain this has to do with the Hot Yoga Center I teach at. You walk into the lobby of the Hot Yoga Center from outside and invariably it feels hot in the lobby. You change and walk into the practice studio and it feels hot. When you are done practicing you walk out of the practice space and into the lobby and the lobby feels cold. Now the temperature of the lobby has not changed. So is the lobby hot or cold? The obvious answer is that it depends on your perspective which depends on how you are looking at it and where you are coming from. Which means that hot and cold are not absolute terms but relative ones.

So with a lot of styles of practice which settle on one specific way of doing certain things, my experience is that if you stay within that style and go deep, the style will work. The versions of things that have been chosen for you will be beneficial and useful and have their applications. Often, the style will have a reason for the choices that have been made and they will help you go deeper. And interestingly, even when the style does not seem to have much reason, or such intelligent reasons, for the choices that have been made, the style still often does something useful.

However, if you are serious about practice and if you do go deep enough you should get to a point where the limits imposed by the style or any style are holding you back rather than helping you. Ultimately all styles are there to be transcended. So you use them while they are useful and then leave them when you have entered that territory of your own authentic journey, whether that journey is within asana practice or the deeper aspects of practice. Ultimately these two categories (asana and deeper aspects) are not really separate.

So the idea I am getting at is that when one style does things one way, and another style does the same things a different way, a lot of the times, people want to understand things as right and wrong: which style is right? Which one is better? And a lot of the time when you have different styles or systems that have made different choices, a better question to ask is: What does each variation do? What is each system emphasizing? What are the benefits to these different techniques and methods?

When you do this and try and examine things in this manner of openness and exploration (rather than judging and choosing), you can understand the application of different techniques and methods and the ways in which they are beneficial without being stuck or attached to a particular method.

And in the end, practice is about freedom. The freedom you obtain in your body with asana is only a metaphor to help you try to find freedom in other aspects of your life. Although, having a body that moves in a variety of ways and is flexible and healthy is also beneficial in itself.

If your physical practice, your seated practices and your in everyday life awareness practices are open and not stuck on right and wrong, if you use your time during practice to open to the experience within which you are currently immersed, interesting shifts and transformations will unfold. Really, they are unfolding whether we realize it or not. But if the process is about awareness, more consciousness, cultivating that deepened awareness, we may see more of what is actually unfolding. And there is so much in each moment that it is worth making practice about initiating that process of cultivating consciousness. But with a soft touch and an open heart; trying to be present without being judgmental: of yourself, of others.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Quote from A Path With Heart

I like this quote. It points to the idea that we can use other peoples teachings and techniques, we can learn from someone else's process but in the end we need to do the work for ourselves, to feel and experience things for ourselves.

This is from A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield p. 158.

Initially, in our enthusiasm for our practice, we tend to take everything we hear or read as the gospel truth. This attitude often becomes even stronger when we join a community, follow a teacher, undertake a disciple. Yet all of the teachings of books, maps, and beliefs have little to do with wisdom or compassion. At best they are a signpost, a finger pointing at the moon, or the leftover dialogue from a time when someone received some true spiritual nourishment. To make spiritual practice come alive, we must discover within ourselves our own way to become conscious, to live a life of the spirit.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Jumping Back from Sitting Broken Down in Stages

This video shows the process of jumping back. It is broken down into a few stages that would help you develop the ability to jump back from sitting.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Yoga Sequence for the Core

This is a little sequence of yoga postures done for core strength. Because of the way you are balancing in these postures they cause the deep muscles of your abdomen and the deep muscles of your spine to work together in a way that is very useful in strengthening the muscles of postural alignment for the health of your spine and lower back. The central technique that would make these postures more effective at getting the core to work is using the breath so that the exhale causes you to scoop your belly inward hollowing out your abdomen while trying to keep the chest expanded, and on the inhale using the breath so that the lower part of the abdomen continues to stay scooped inward as you fill the chest and ribcage. Even without these exercises, if you use this breath technique you will work your core in a useful way. If you add that breath technique to these postures, it will make the work you do in the postures far more powerful. As with all practice, the postures should be adapted to the actual needs and abilities of the practitioner for them to be useful and effective.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jumping Back from Crow Broken Down in Stages

This is a short and simple video that shows what I feel are the stages for jumping back from Crow Pose, Bakasana. The central issue in the process is the upper bodies weight shifting forward as the legs move first up and then back. The reason you want the upper body to shift forward is so that the weight stays centered over the hands: as the legs move back the upper body moves forward to counterbalance the weight of the legs.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Side Plank: Vashistasana Variations Working the Core

This is a video that goes through a few variations for Side Plank Pose, Vashistasana. This is a great pose because it can be done in so many ways so there is bound to be a variation that works for you. And because you are holding your body at a lateral angle it causes the deep muscles of the abdomen and spine--what I would refer to as the core, the muscles that control posture and are closest to our center of gravity--to work at a unique angle.

New Titibhasana Photo

Somehow I always make some sort of intense face with this pose. I think that is me smiling. :) Nah, just kidding. But I like this photo. I should have another group of videos ready to post in the next few hours.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Eka Pada Koundinyasana II to Ashtavakrasana: Moving with Control: Floating

These hand balances are not really that hard but they are fun and they link together very nicely. Eka Pada Koundinyasana II opens the pelvic structure towards a split while you are balancing on your hands. Ashtavakrasana is a rotation where your spine and hips are turning while balancing on the hands. Each pose separately feels pretty good and when you link them together it adds an extra element of balance as you float from one pose to the next and then back through the vinyasa.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Moving Reclining Twist Releasing Tension from Neck, Shoulders, Hips and Lower Back

Jathara Parivrrti is the Sanskrit name for the pose. This video shows a moving or dynamic version of a reclining twist. It is interesting how much moving into and out of the pose does to release tension and get you ready before holding the pose. If you just go straight into the pose and hold, the body will not release anywhere near as much tension. This rotation really does great things, especially for the lower back and hips but also for the neck shoulders and the whole spine. I am always amazed at how useful and effective some of these simpler movements are for the health of our bodies.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Titibhasana, Firefly: Hand Balancing and Float Through Vinyasa

This is a video of me doing Titibhasana, Firefly pose. You can see decent form in the hand balance and then float through the vinyasa.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chakravakasana: Releasing Tension from the Neck, Shoulders, Upper Back, Mid Back, Lower Back, HIps and Knees

These movements are often called Cat/Cow. I like the name Desikachar uses for the movement a little better. Chakravakasana refers to a mythical bird that is puffing up its chest. I think this gets at the essence of the back bend better than the image of a rickety cow whose back is swayed so that its belly is falling towards the floor. Instead, if you think of the expansion of the chest and keep the neck and lower back long, using the core strength to stabilize those areas, ultimately you are going to be better off.

When done in a way that is useful to the practitioner, this pose can release tension from the neck, shoulders, upper back, mid back, lower back, hips and knees. Not too shabby for a movement that is so easy and simple.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Series Sun Salutation

I made a new version of A Series and this one is different enough that I figured I would put this in as a new post but I am pulling the old post so there is only one A Series Sun Salutation video.

In this video one of the things to take note of is the quality of the movement from one pose to the next. There is a quality of relaxedness and strength, fluidity and control without any of the movements being rushed. The movements are all coordinated with the breathing. The breath is full, deep, even and relaxed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

B Series Sun Salutation with Handstand Slipped In

So this is simply a B Series Sun Salutation, Surya Namaskar B, with a Handstand slipped into the sequence.

Hugging One Knee In At A Time: Releasing Tension From Hips and Lower Back

This is a video of a gentle Vinyasa that is deceptively effective. I find it interesting how these simple repetitive movements are much more powerful than one might think from simply watching. Because you are moving in a relaxed and controlled manner they remove tension from your joints in an extremely effective way. This movement actually helps to relax and release tension from the neck, shoulders and upper back while expanding the chest and ribcage, and it also removes tension from the knees, hips and lower back.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Balancing Half Moon and Bird of Paradise in Sequence

This is a sequence with Balancing Half Moon and Bird of Paradise. One of the nice things in this sequence is seeing a way of coming into Ardha Chandrasana slowly--balancing and floating your way into the pose.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

B Series Sun Salutation

So I think I am getting the hang of the editing side of this process better and better each time. This is a B Series Sun Salutation. Things to note about this video: It is a little longer than the others. I think it is worth showing good form in a B Series Sun Salutation. The movement is slow, not rushed. I am moving with my breath. The movements are powerful but not forceful. They are relaxed. And my head, neck and upper back alignment is always really good. My neck is never tightening up, particularly on the back bends where I am looking up. So I am not creating unwanted stress in those important areas while I am moving. I guess the last thing is that my alignment in each of the poses is pretty solid and part of that is due to the fact that my alignment while I am moving is pretty good. It is really important to have good alignment while moving from one pose to the next. That is really one of the keys to arriving in a pose with good alignment. I hope you enjoy this.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bakasana, Crow Pose, Floating Into and Out of Pose Slowly

The idea with this video clip is to see how jumping, or really floating, into and out of crow pose can be done slowly with control if you keep your weight over your hands so that you can stay balanced for as long as possible in the float.

In my commentary on this video I was trying to get across the idea that while the jumps are slow, the tape is at regular speed. I had a friend suggest that I do a video where I slow motion the video so you can really see the jumps. And what I decided to do instead was to make this video where I was doing the jumps and going very slowly so that you can see how the jumps can actually be about floating, slowly, rather than being about jumping.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Handstand, Getting The Hips Over The Hands First

I am posting this version of handstand so that I can show a little more clearly the process of getting the hips over the hands first before trying to come the rest of the way up to balance. In this footage, when I jumped, I let my right leg lag behind and waited until my hips were centered over my hands before trying to bring that right leg up. But it is also worth noting that, when I jump, I am not trying to get the left leg over my hands either. I am just focused on getting my hips over my hands. Once that happens the balance falls into place and the legs come up in a nice controlled manner.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Handstand: Two Variations on Getting Up

This is a video in which I demonstrate two variations on how to get up into handstand. The first variation is kicking up with one leg. Often when people kick up with one leg they try to get the foot over the hands. If instead you focus on getting the hips over the hands it causes the feet to follow and you get up there much more easily and you start getting your balance much more quickly as a result. The second variation that I show is coming up with both legs at the same time. With this one also, if you focus on getting the hips over the shoulders then you can start working on those subtle balance adjustments that get you the rest of the way up with a sense of control.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Video of a Moving Bridge Variation that Will Help Release Tension from the Neck, Shoulders and Lower Back

This simple, gentle variation of Dvi Pada Pitam (Moving Bridge) will help release tension from the neck, shoulders and lower back. It is interesting how powerful and effective simple things like this can be.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Photos of What I did for the Circus

I figured I would put a few photos of what I used to do on inline skates (rollerblades) on here so you guys could see the type of stuff that I used to do with the circus.

These first two are dropping in to the ramp. These are called vert ramps because the top of the ramp is a vertical surface. That platform I am standing on is 12 feet above the ground.




These next two are in Miami Beach, Florida.


Sometimes people ask me if the palm tree behind me is real. Yes it is. The photographer, John Twomey, is just good at what he does and he got an angle where I was centered in front of the palm tree. Towards the bottom left of the photo you can see the top of the ramp.


This last one is in New York at a competition that was held at Chelsea Piers. I like this because you can see the background and get a perspective of where I am in relationship to the ground. This photo is on my bio page next to a photo of me in Scorpion.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Yoga Photo Slide Show

So I have now figured out enough about how to play with video to edit something like this and to put it on the web. This video is really just me taking many of those same photos that have been on the blog in other places and editing them into a short slide show. But now that I know how to do this kind of thing I am hopefully going to be taking some actual footage of me practicing and perhaps even, me teaching and turning them into some useful videos. If you click on the box that has a box inside it you will get a full screen view of it. This video can also be found on YouTube. Here is the link to it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X84RSyOQA-U