Brothers know best.

By on Jul 8, 2015 in The Unruly Ascetic

My brother has been practicing Ashtanga for a few months now.  Mostly behind my back, but lately he’s been coming to my class, willfully refusing my advice and getting distracted by badass ladies. It’s fun. He’s pretty cool: 25, super fit, into rock climbing and slack lining, building skateboards, riding his bike, and drinking craft beer.  He’s smart and nice and generally a good sport. He asked me during practice today if we can cater his practice to suit his interests and goals for his body.  He is concerned that he will be expected to put a lot of effort into skills that he doesn’t see any value in (namely, the entirety of intermediate). I laughed and told him that’s what happens in a vinyasa class.  He laughed, immediately recognizing his faux pas. “I wouldn’t be doing Ashtanga then?” I then proceeded to explain that the primary series is geared toward physical health, toward the...

ROBOTS ATTACKING

By on Jul 2, 2015 in The Unruly Ascetic

Well apparently Yoshimi did not protect me from the evil natured robots (any Flaming Lips fans out there?). Obviously they attacked my awesome blog because I have so many righteous followers. But they have been smited by the glorious and powerful Jimmy Crow. Long story short, I know the blog got hacked. Thanks for all the heads up and sorry for the crushing disappointment that I am sure you felt when you realized that it was not the insightful and inspiring, totally grammatically correct writing that you usually get emailed about. I’ll have a new blog post soon… probably something about how I like learning stuff and how ashtanga helps with that. xo

Long hair, don’t care.

By on Jun 25, 2015 in The Unruly Ascetic

Practicing Yoga is like getting a haircut… There’s no right way to get a haircut.  It is based on preference, intention, and need.  The client  is working with a very specific amount and type of hair.  The stylist has a specific set of tools and skills.  Some people like short hair and some barbers like using trimmers.  Student and teacher (oops! client and stylist) work together out of logic and trust. If I want a military haircut I can get a decent one from most barbers around, but I’ll do best to go the barber who does the most of them.  Just as if I want long layers I probably won’t go to the military barber, but would find someone who practices and enjoys cutting long hair. I know, it’s not perfect.  Barbers cut hair FOR you, your teacher doesn’t practice FOR you.  It’s not perfect.  But I’m going with it. Going to Mysore is like going to see this super famous stylist. This...

Smooth Sailing

By on Jun 23, 2015 in The Unruly Ascetic

One of my all time favorite analogies comes from Sharath (surprise, surprise).  He says that Yoga is like the ocean (off to a good start, who doesn’t like the ocean?).  If we sail on the ocean and experience it from above, meaning intellectual study that does not include a true practice, we can only see a few feet below the surface. We can only make inferences about what happens below.  We can not know how the ocean feels, or tastes, or looks in all its glory from the deck of a ship. The only real way to know the ocean is to jump in. I love this analogy.  It’s poetic and beautiful. I’ll come back to it later. I was having a discussion with a student the other day (holla Ted!) about how I struggle with finding balance of effort in my personal practice and my daily life.  It is frustrating to feel like I constantly struggle with this, knowing that too little effort will not help my body...

It’s just like riding a bike.

By on Jun 18, 2015 in The Unruly Ascetic

Dropping back is like riding a bike (but not because you never forget how to). Students frequently ask why they should try to stand up and drop back before doing the backbends of the Intermediate series when those postures seem so much more approachable.  I have a very long answer and about fear and trust and big picture ideas that includes the bicycle analogy (which falls flat on some Russians I know who never bothered with bike, what with all the snow, so I already know it’s not universal). When I learned how to ride a bicycle I took a pretty all-or-nothing approach.  I practiced coasting and tried out the training wheels, but didn’t do much more to prepare for the big day when I expected my Dad to be holding me and he didn’t and I fell and everything turned out fine.  The next day I tried again and maybe I fell a little less hard or maybe I ate it, but either way I was out on...

Analogies, an introduction.

By on Jun 17, 2015 in The Unruly Ascetic

I’ve found myself thinking in analogies lately.  I know this is the result of doing a lot of teaching and trying to come up with understandable ways to explain something unfamiliar… but do analogies work for everyone or just for a certain type of person, like me? Ian the Giant says emphatically, YES.  Analogies are universal and the foundation of human communication.  Words are tiny analogies (a stretch in terms of the literal linguistics, but I get what he’s putting down). I like how his brain works, but I’m talking visualizations and hesitate to be so sure that I’m not just a bit cray.  I’ve found myself coming up with ridiculous analogies for everything, from mundane things (that everyone already understands) as well as complex concepts surrounding practice and experience (that I’m not actually sure I understand). We each learn and remember things based on...