We hear this at the beginning of any yoga class that we attend, “Begin to breath” or “Come to your breath” at first it may seem strange, breathing is something we do naturally, automatically. In essence it is the first thing we do, we inhale when we come into this world and the exhale will be the last thing we do when we leave it.
For me when I first became aware of my breathing in yoga practice it made the difference between just exercising and turned it into a moving meditation. At first it can be difficult because of all the things that are going on in the yoga room. The people, the mirrors, the heat and what may seem strange movements that encompass the practice. I found when I began to breathe and followed the breath in and out of my body those distractions seemed to just float away. It was like I was the only person in the room and it was just me and the voice of the instructor moving me from posture to posture. Instead of thinking of how difficult a posture was or “Oh my god I hate this how much longer do I have to be here.” I began to ride the wave of my breath, I began to feel my body in space, the inhale as my head rises and the exhale as my head descends, the concentration on the smooth flow of oxygen in and out of my body carried me through the posture holds and transitions between the poses and in it I found the ease in my practice.
Of course, it sounds simple but like everything in this life it takes practice and consistency to master. I have found the best way to get students to understand and truly feel this is a simple breathing exercise that can be done at any part of your day off the mat.
Give it a try off the mat and then see how it works on the mat. I have found great benefit to this simple exercise it has taken my practice further. Enjoy!
Tomorrow after teaching the Noon Friday Yin class at Hollywood Market Yoga I will have fulfilled the requirements to become recognized by the Yoga Alliance, the governing body over the art of Yoga, as an E-RYT 500 currently their highest certification. It truly is an honor to go thought the process to achieve this. What does it mean? Well I believe that it would allow me to create and teach my own 300 RYT teacher’s training. Cool. Well my thoughts on the current method of becoming Yoga teachers are in question. I do believe we need to revamp it for the good. As I read a few years ago “Do we truly need more people teaching yoga as we need/like to have more people doing yoga in its various forms.
This is where I’m at currently. I have been fortunate to teach for a few different TT’s over the years. It has had it’s ups and downs but in all it has been a good experience. As a yoga practitioner for over 10 years I feel we need a higher calling. We need to not just teach people to teach open classes in the various studios through out the valley but to teach students the whole story the 8 limbs of yoga not just what we call in the west Yoga, the physical practice, asana, but the other riches of the practice. Particularly the branch’s of pranayama and meditation and then ultimately taking it to sumuda, enlightenment or something in the zip code.
Over the years I have picked up a few “Yoga Certifications”. My original was from D’ana Baptest’s Centered City Yoga now called in InBody Academy I taught under just that certification for years. At the time CCY Cert was not recognized by the Yoga Alliance and it was not that important to prospective studios and Gym’s. When it was needed I took the local Teacher’s Training from the Shanti School here in Idaho both 200 and 300 RYT. Also picked up a 200 RYT from Gabriel Azoulay’s H3 Yoga in which I will be forever grateful for showing me the art of Yin Yoga. Most recently I did a 7-day intensive for a “Yoga For Healthy Aging” (no YA on this one). Which was very rewarding. Things have changed and how we accumulate our Yoga knowledge has changed I’m currently looking at getting an on-line Yin Certification through Travis Elliot. As always looking for a way to expand my knowledge as a teacher. Looking at different ideas on how these practices are presented to my students. This is where I’m at on the certification front.
But it goes deeper over the last year I have been very diligent in my asana (Yin & Power), Pranayama and meditation practices. Grouping them all together in a daily practice that I have found to be very rewarding. I have seen marked growth the mental attitude, physical movement in both Yin and Yang fashions. Going deeper in both my Power Yoga linage and with Yin knowledge to help me in both my personnel growth and what I offer to my students in the studio and gym that I currently work through. Giving the people more to those that just enjoy the practice of yoga the art of it all or just the physical excersise. I’m very happy in what I have found and where I see my practice and teaching is going and I look forward to continuing to grow as a Yogi and teacher and sharing it with those that come to my classes and workshops. Much love!
The first stop was Reno, Nevada. Pretty non-descript - it was a stop over. We stayed at the Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa. Ate some seafood, gambled a bit got a good night sleep and headed on.
The next morning we got up and headed to the Bay Area, at first I was thinking of a spot just above “The City” a beach right above the Golden Gate Bridge but first we needed to go through Sacramento. Amazing enough on the way we ran into traffic. Traffic was a way of life back in the days that we lived and worked in the Northern California, I would find out that it has gotten even worse. We went into a traffic jam right out of Sacramento and pretty much stayed in it until after the SF trip was aborted. We crossed over into Oakland then down through San Jose and into Campbell, California. Campbell is a town above San Jose that was home to two of my favorite places after I got my drivers license in my teens. Tower Records and El Burro. One is still there the other is long gone. Once we got to the Prune Yard Shopping Center I was surprised to see that a spot I had forgotten and was pleasantly surprised was still there was the Sports Basement, a sports apparel store. I started my MLB hat collection there. So of course, some shopping did occur. A few more MLB hats I really didn’t need but what the heck I’m on vacation. After that we headed over to El Burro, the best Mexican restaurant on the planet. Well at least the first on that I would ever eat at outside of Taco Bell. So good is El Burro that I went on a return trip before I headed home I found my favorite dish on the planet Chili Colorado Burrito. If this is not one of the universes greatest creations I’m not sure what is. What I really enjoyed was that I could leave part of it on the plate and no lick the plate as I always wanted to do in less enlightened times.
Early the next day, well enough to miss traffic we headed in to San Jose the Berryessa area where I grew up or at least became conscious. Going straight down Bascom Ave. to 280 off at Berryessa Road and I was in my hometown. Went by my house from 4th grade on. 2932 Cortina Drive. My folks left the place in 1995 when they retired to Maui. Then on to the Track at Piedmont Hills High school. Where a good portion of my life was lived. I was an ill-fated Track star good, but not great I had my delusions of Olympic grandeur or at least State High School stardom, not to be. It is now a beautiful red modern surface when I was there it was gravel but the center of my universe as it was. It was the 70’s. I remembered working out here, PHHS football games before I was in High School. Good and Bad, Happy and Sad this was my spot. I spent some time here taking way too many pictures and walking the track I truly love and always will. From there I went to the Toyon Elementary School area where I first attended school. I followed the route I use to walk to and from school at the age of 5, yes that what was life in 1965.
On to Alum Rock Park the jewel of the area and of course one of my favorite places on Earth. I spent a lot of time running around up there training for Track and what ever sport I was doing back in the Jr. High to High School years just as important was the time that I spent there as a preschooler (that didn’t happen back then) through elementary school. Alum Rock was a destination place back in its hay day at the first part of the 20th. Century. To me it was the place that we would take off as a family to do the picnic thing, go to company picnics with San Jose Hospital where my mom worked. Where I swam in a place called “The Plunge” an old-school Natatorium, long gone. Along with the mineral water grottos that are still there. I would run then stop along the shores do my idea of meditation then run home. Nice. Walked around saw the elevated area that was a zoo in my youth. Look at the birds and just took in the smell of the place just the wonder of it all I saw nature and learned to appreciate it here. So, after a quick run through some of the other places I remembered; Karlene and I headed off to Santa Cruz, the ocean.
On this day, I wake up around 4:30am to get ready to teach the 6:00am Hot Power Flow at Red Yoga in Eagle. I have my rituals a bit of meditation and while in it I ask the universe to give me a great class for my students. I then shower, shampoo and shine, take off and make my way to Eagle. I arrive around 5:30am and prepare the studio for class. The students start to show up they greet me and each other, conversations begin after a few moments it is 6:00am and we get ready to roll. We start in child’s pose and move through the warm up phases. The class is a good size for Red Yoga, a small but beautiful studio that I’m honored to call home for several years now. We make our way into my modified version of the Sun Salutations A and B. We take a water break I check with the new person make a few suggestion and we move on. The class went very well. After closing the class with my singing bowl and wishing all Namaste the class is released. I wish them all a good rest of their week and thank them for coming.
One of my students hangs back to talk as the others make their way out to their day. This lady is a long-time student. During the water break she checked her phone and I made mention of it. Over the years, she has become a key member of the 6:00am Red Tribe. She came in very timid, shy and unsure of herself. Over the years that has all melted away and she has made great strides in her practice and become one of my best students. She is a mother of 4 children 2 graduated from U of I, her oldest girl is currently attending classes there with her youngest girl getting ready to attend. Both of her girls have been very active in Cheer Leading and of course she has been there every step of the way. Although she herself is an only child her 4 children along with her husband are the center of her world.
She apologized for the phone and then shows me some pictures as she tells me that her youngest daughter was in an auto accident. A real scary looking one. In the pictures the car her daughter was driving is flipped over on its roof. Luckily for her she was not seriously injured outside of a concussion. The car is totaled. As she is relaying the story I’m surprised that she is even in class. Then again, she has become a very dedicated Yoga student. She shows up Mon, Wed and Fri, all the days that the class is offered and makes a few classes in the evenings and weekends. It hits me that her yoga has become very important to her, even as her family has gone through a scare the practice is what she needed. In fact I feel very honored to be the teacher that introduced her to the practice that now has become very important to her life. That is the thing about this practice of yoga it gets into you and when you are consistent to it, it becomes the thing that helps you make senses when things go nuts. Thanks for sharing that with me and honoring me with your presence in my class.
The Formulation of Trip: The Retro Road Trip part 1.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have been on a fantastic adventure traveling around the San Francisco Bay Area the first week visiting a few areas of interest and meaning, then the second off to Scotts Valley for a very informative yoga inversion/retreat. They say you can never go home perhaps for the reason that it will never be how you remember it. Well in this day and age the majority of us should be over that kind of thinking after all change happens quick here in the 21st Century. Over the last few years random thoughts have crossed my mind on how cool it would be to spend a few days visiting a few of the places that I use to hang around and loved as a kid growing up in San Jose, California.
So, on that note over the last two weeks I have been blessed to take a road trip from my home in Meridian Idaho to the Bay Area. The idea came to me last year after attending a weekend Yoga workshop in McCall, ID. The teachers for the workshop was Baxter Bell, MD. Baxter is a fantastic Yoga teacher and individual, with the combined knowledge of a Medical Doctor and a Yogi. I drove him up and back to the McCall workshop got to know him and really enjoyed the workshop and felt this guy has some stuff to teach me. As luck would have it I found out that Baxter and his partner Melina Meza would be holding a Yoga immersion/retreat at a retreat center in Scotts Valley just over the hill from San Jose, California; the town that I grew up in. So, the idea of the trip began to form perhaps I would leave a few days early spend some time in San Jose snap some pictures and see what has become of a few places that I have not seen in years. I have not lived in San Jose for some 30 plus years. I have been back over that time so I know some major things have changed in a major way after all San Jose considers itself the capital of the Silicon Valley. So, I was prepared. Around Dec. 2016 I signed up for the “Yoga for Healthy Aging” class and began to think, plan and scheme the trip. The last time I was in the Bay was to see the Barry Bond’s lead Giants so it’s been a bit. At first I was going to go by myself but over some time I was able to convince my wife Karlene to join me. I really wanted to do this trip free form meaning that I did not want to plan every stop but just kind of allow the breeze to take us where we wanted to go, of course wanting to see a few set places. The two houses that I grew up in, the schools that I went to, Alum Rock Park perhaps if time permitted a baseball game. I found out the Oakland A’s baseball team would be in town while I was there and had to go see them. Other ideas came up a day trip to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury District, The Winchester Mystery House, Santa Cruz and a few other spots that Google Maps said still exist. So, on June 17th (the day after our 33-year wedding anniversary) Karlene and I aimed our Ford Focus toward Reno, Nevada, the first destination and headed off “The Retro Road Trip” had become……………………to be continued.
Ease Grace Agility Power Strength Balance
Originally, I came up with the above words as I was designing a yoga studio, I wanted to come up with something that would give the students a place on the front wall they would be facing, a place to take their gaze or drishti during practice and inspiration if their focus began to fade. I choose them because I felt that their meaning would be what I wanted the practice to inspire within them. I have heard over the years that they did help on both counts. Nice! Of course, I looked at these words myself as I practiced and taught in that studio; they began to seep into my conscious and over time I would add them to a mantra that I used in my meditation and continue to use some 10 years later. I have repeated these words countless times, they would move further into my being taking on a much deeper meaning. In fact, I see how the meaning of these words began to melt into each other as I build my yoga practice around them. In my mind, they have become the essence of My Yoga practice.
I call them “The Order of Things”. Why? Well in the practice of Yoga we look for a sense of Ease and Grace, in movement, in the postures. There is a second meaning to Grace in the spiritual sense, a deeper connection to the universe. Agility, how we move through the transitions and the postures with ease of movement. Power, in the poses as well as the power I find within myself as the practice intensifies. The Strength that is created by the practice mentally, physically and spiritual. Balance as it is found in the body, mind and spirit; on and off the mat.
Over the next month or so I will take each of the words and break them down further. What they mean to me in my practice along with other aspects of my life and how they can help you and yours.
My beloved Yoga Teacher D’ana Baptiste posted this on Facebook and I thought it very true and close to my own thoughts on life as it is. I have always marveled at how she could build a great Yoga Community in of all places Salt Lake City, Utah. Develop so many world class yoga teachers, I’m very proud to be one of them. Then give it all up and head off to a Mexican fishing village to contemplate the next part of her life. Cheers my dear, Namaste!
Don't worship a bearded man in the sky, or a graven image in a book. Worship the in-breath and the out-breath, the winter breeze caressing your face, the morning rush on the Underground, the simple feeling of being alive, never knowing what is to come. See God in the eyes of a stranger, Heaven in the broken and the ordinary. Worship the ground on which you stand. Make each day a dance, with tears in your eyes, as you behold the divine in every moment, see the absolute in all things relative, and let them call you crazy. Let them laugh and point. You are a yogi of traffic jams and discarded apple cores, aloneness and impossibly blue winter skies, a yogi of broken dreams, mad with truth and devotion and inexplicable joy, and you cannot be saved now.
This just past Tuesday we did our 4-year ritual of picking the President of the United States of America. The polls told us that Hilary Clinton was 4 points ahead, what ever that means. Like many I thought WOW not only will I see the first African-American elected to the office but right behind him the first women president. We live in amazing times and I was smack dab in the middle of it. I must admit I never thought I would see not just one but two historic accessions. Lucky me not so fast. Instead what appears to be a cocky, self-promoting, chauvinistic ass wipe got elected. Oh no! One of the very cool things about the time that we live in is that we can instantly let our feeling be known to the world at large. We can tell them what we are doing with an assist from our smart phones, take pictures of the food we are about to eat and post it and record the latest stuff our kids do and up load it on-line. I love it and use it often its as if I’m living in the future. Again with the WOW. Okay I was for towing the line going with the safe bet but the rest of my fellow Americans thought different they elected that guy. The former USFL New Jersey Generals owner, the guy who wrote the book, the your fired guy and then again the hair, what is up with the hair? We elected an actor once and now we have elected a Reality TV star. Good for us…………………………………….. Perhaps some of what seems to be half crocked may not be so far off like getting other country’s to flip their bill for their own protection, or taxing them for bringing their goods into our country and using that money to turn around repairing our infrastructure and creating jobs on our soil. Ideas yes, he has said some wack things but he is a billionaire and he wants to lend his experience in helping our country. Really. If I had a billion dollars I would be sitting on a beach with a big fatty and a nice Red. Not trying to lend my expertise in business to help run the country. Nope I would set my apple watch for what time to turn over, don’t laugh. I have seen plenty of this posted on line “What do I tell my children about this?” Well that would be easy I would and have told them that “The sun came up the next day. Folks came to Yoga and the 3 pillars of our government are still intake and most importantly that I love them no matter what.” Give the Donald a chance, keep breathing and above all know that all great things are coming! Resolve to be non-reactionary like the Yoga Sutras teach and share that with your people. That’s all we have until the ritual begins again and we can vote his ass out if need be. Remember that there are checks and balances built into our Federal Government. If your reading this life is pretty damn good so be grateful!
Simplify in perfect form.
Find the perfect form you can find at this particular time.
Instead of just lying in the pose, breathe into it.
I want a peaceful soul!
May you honor the best in yourself and others,
remember to thank your teachers and the teachers of your teachers.
May you continue to practice so that you can discover the wisdom that lies in these traditions as well as the wisdom of the guru within, your dharma.
May love carry you and guide your breath, thoughts, actions, and words.
May you be a light in this world and may your light catch fire and with that, light many fires of wisdom, love and peace.
May you have a lifetime of infinite blessings, and the wisdom to see them.
- Shared by Stephanie Parker. I don’t know the author but pretty dam cool.
Husband, Father, Yogi, Meditator, Yoga Teacher, Baseball Fan, Photographer, Writer Artist………………Bohemian.