Category Archives: yoga teaching

I Can’t Breathe

Exploding canisters

We are all suffocating

Tears pouring

As autocracy creeps

ky-lousiville-0529-4-1440 george loyd protest

Need a minute to get my breath

Some space

Some breathing room

 

Peaceful protesters flushed like roaches

Trump declares he needs no Governor’s blessing to bring them to their knees

On their knees they will have to look up

To him

He sets his flag for fascism

 

Breathtaking

Breathless

Relentless

Get off my neck!

Heavy metal death roar

This weight on my chest

 

Respirator, intubate, oxygen tank, hospital bed, mask

I can’t breathe

Wearing this mask

Anxious

Virus Violent

 

Permit to carry anywhere anytime

Weapons unmasked

Endangered cops and itchy triggers

Psychopath cops excuse to murder

Insanity

War

Smoke

Tear gas

 

In Nashville, my corner

Funnel cloud first

Dust storm next

Smashed sheet rock and ink dyed paper sheets

Scarred the air

Shelter in place, the virus is hunting you

Then the storm

Power out

For days

Hoarded frozen food to stay in for days now useless

What good was preparing for dearth?

 

You don’t know what’s coming

 

Black and White make black and white

Not gray today

Let Black have its day

 

The under loved rightly rage while

Savage Supremacists

stain

Intercept, interfere, interface

Time Square cleared for months by THE VIRUS

Teems with righteous indignation

 

Across the country

Tainted by anarchy placed and paid

Looters

Ruiners

Devastate the innocent and already broken

Misplaced misery

Monsters for hire

 

Being Black means no space

To mourn together

Protest together

Rise together

Yoga, ”The practice of the last breath

Is not enough.

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Flower or Weed, Biden or Bernie? Trump? It Depends on the Time and Place. Election 2020

Vote for love, vote for gentle.

WE can’t take another angry man shouting in our faces.

So polarized, so hateful, so tired are we from squad Trump.

CRACKED.

I thought, don’t push it. The PUSH BACK might elect the Dictator again. We can’t stand that.

Tread lightly, make no waves.

Biden is a safe bet. Bernie always seems angry though rightly so.

And then the Virus finished us off. Blew off the doors, exposed the flaws.

Revealed corruption, pollution, inequity, racism in ways some might have ignored before.

The Dictator’s commands from the pulpit are a paucity of mercy that cannot be denied.

The Federal government is “not a shipping service”. It’s every man and state for himself says he. Bidding wars and price gauging while people die alone.

Not my problem. People are free to do what they want.

Work is money. Money is power. Resume your positions.

My show must go on.

Low gas prices, a welcome relief for you,is a crisis says he and you’ll believe it

because Dictator will explain it with a benign malignancy as he does all alternative facts.

And will repeat it every day just so you know he is unashamed and his words become gospel to the flock seeking salvation.

Tells you to your face he will fuck you in favor of his Saudi and Russian oil friends, for an oil industry that should have been phased out years ago

Look at his confidence!

Like, yes we put Jews in ovens but it was good for the economy

and say it every day until we are numb and inert or believe him.

Only a sociopath could pull off such a subterfuge. He’s such a charming fella.

You might forget right and wrong. Some have.

Bernie displays the pitfalls of the 1% disparity. Demands health care and fair wages as a right. Shows that in crisis there is not net for the most vulnerable.

For most of us.

And here we are.

Bernie did not radicalize us.

An invisible bug and ill prepared leadership beat him to it.

Rob Lindsay Pictures

If Bernie was a thorn in the Democratic party he is now a flower in its last phase shedding seeds for rebirth.

If Biden was a cultivated flower he is now a wild one. Will he genetically modify his platform to fit Bernie’s’ as Bernie holds some cards?

If reality star Trump was a flower on a clown’s lapel,

Dictator Trump is a poisonous vine.

Time to clear the White House battleground.

 Spray no weed killing poison but till the fields instead.

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Let My People Go

Dictator runs the narrative, threatens, fires, lies and fury.

Controls the coffers, flogs his servants, incites the faithful, degrades the women, emasculates the men.

He is the sum of himself and his minions. Minions enable the one.

Without that symbiosis the dictator would perish. That parasite needs a host.

Like the VIRUS.

He is he and the sum of his parasites. The host is a shell once called a party.

Republican.

Greed, lust, disregard for the under gloried.

He is Pharaoh.

They are Pharaoh.

Hoards stockpiles of life saving devices in the temple

Those are for the privileged.

The under worthy can silently suffocate alone.

 

Who cares, thinks Pharaoh?

If they care now he banks on them forgetting when he puts a few dollars in their pockets and promises the moon.

 

He is/ they are corrupted Israelites on the radar of one Jesus.

The wealth worshipers.

Wealth is power.

Extra is power.

Time to remember.

At dinner.

At church.

Hunting eggs.

Or matzoh.

 

God threatened to kill the children.

Of the flock that wrongly enslaved and imprisoned.

Release them from bondage or the first born is killed.

And God killed his first and only.

Made him a martyr.

Guilt.

 

He died for you. Now it’s pay back time cause you didn’t get the message.

You weren’t humble.

You worshiped money.

Hoarded.

Abandoned values.

Didn’t notice, didn’t care.

 

Years slide by.

 

Injuries add up.

Poison the earth for a buck.

Flog ourselves to everlasting labor.

Enslaved to the dollar,

Owned by the man, the landlord, the lender,

Over step and step over.

Money will make us immune.

 

Well I’ll grant you it can help

like that fat lipid surrounding the Covid 19 virus.

Their are some shields;

 

Better healthcare, education,

the privilege of space to surround one’s fortress.

But no!

No one is exempt.

The innocent and the guilty will go when

their time is up.

Time.

What will we do when it is ours again?

Will we re step into the ashen streams

Slumber under brown smog skies?

 

 

 

 

 

Dump stockpiles of pesticides back on our food?

Ignore the poor?

Disable the ignorant?

What will we do with our time?

How can we people go

without a path to freedom.

Don’t tell me it’s the next life,

the afterlife.

Tell me something real.

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The Earth Breathes and Nature Runs Free on a Pandemic Morning.

Do we need to lose our breath for the Earth to get hers?

Will the sky appear in China without industry?

What is India without a car’s exhaust?

Will the animals come back if the hunters stand down?

Will the plants reappear if the clear-cutters are laid up?

I drive down the road and remember the Nashville I love.

Traded Los Angeles for a place more small town than city almost thirty years ago. Because of us it became a city. Ironic.

Now small town charm hangs in the air like a friendly ghost.

Space and intimacy are  precious.

One fights to sustain.

We live in tiny tribes separated by things unfamiliar but not unpleasant.

We can buy anything, eat anything.

We can go to music venues morning to night.

Existence means some things are exchanged for others.

And we still find one another.

It just takes more effort.

Effort is good when it’s done with optimism. It’s not bad.

But I notice in this empty space that my optimism was a dwindling resource.

You know what I mean.

Last year I read a study out of England that declared loneliness to be the worst disease of our time.

It kills people.

You see? Social distancing is not new.

Are we at one end of a pendulum’s swing?

Is this Covid monstrosity the full tilt?

Will anything change as we emerge gray haired and naked before each other some time from now?

Still breathing for now.

Listening to the quiet.

Few cars drive down this street these days.

Every day is the third day of vacation.

It’s the fourth day when one succumbs to the reality that this life is not that life.

My time is my own.

What will I do to enjoy it?

.

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Hazmat Suit Sleep

It’s the end of the life that we knew.

We’ll have to make a new one.

Nature is shaking us from our torpor.

Shaking harder I should say. Many of us have felt her urgent hand before.

Some of us will not wake up.

In the kosha layers of Ayurveda the human body is the last thing to feel disease. It comes from disturbance in the field of planetary agitation, emotion, mind and yes, breath.

Earth, you’ve got my attention. I will attend.

Like anyone, you want to be heard.

I hear you.

I see you Corona Virus. Respect for your massive power.

Now please leave us alone.

 

My eyes close at 9:00 P.M.

Sitting in front of the television.

I have no purpose. No schedule. Like some of you. I take myself to bed to rise at midnight despite the struggle to stay unconscious. I imagine prisoners of war. John McCain shows up. He’s young and brave and handsome looking up through a bamboo cage stuck in a hole in the ground.

He’s showing me that sanity now is a choice.

Why him? He’s not the first guy in my playlist of favorites but you don’t choose who visits from beyond.

Merlin, our new puppy will wake me at dawn, my favorite time of day.

Until now.

Willed to the mattress till the first bird sings had been my way. A lack of sleep made no difference. Joyous to fling myself smiling from the bed as my husband soundly slept. Grateful for another day, the sweet foam on my coffee. The peace of being the lone one at my kitchen island taking in the morning news.

Merlin’s sharp teeth and happy paws disrupt my Hazmat suit dreams today. I think I got back to this bed just hours ago. He and Layla, my sweet hound, beat the walls with anticipant tails that herald a delightful day.

Always new. Always hopeful.

I am exhausted.

I think, I’ve got time to make steel cut oats. It takes a half hour. Ha Ha. Why is that still surprising? Coat the pot with Ghee, boil the water with sea salt, add chopped dates with the oats. Sprinkle toasted pecans and dark maple syrup. Feed my husband and son something healthy, something happy, something lucky to have in the ever present rainy gray gloom.

I do a headstand in the living room. Wait for the upside down to get real. Land with clarity. In the upside down life is interesting. And it goes on.

Write this post. Figure out Venmo and Zoom meetings and send resumes for the future. Clean the closets already cleaned before. Clean out this old filing cabinet.

Call friends in California today. Seems a bit of an underachievement.

Call the bank and change my auto pays. Think about how to get unemployment for my part time but constant work of over a dozen years at Vanderbilt. Corporate America turned its backs on those of us paid the least at the esteemed University. What bullshit.

Note to self. Care less.

Some of my clients will buy a Facebook Portal. We will do virtual classes. Three books unfinished beckon.

I’ve planted hyacinth to bloom next year, weeded beds, fertilized and mulched with my youngest son.

The Crabapples are a canopy of white petals. Daffodils are still smiling under blooming Redbuds as the tulips prepare to burst. The wisteria I’ve sculpted on the front lawn is ready to break out. Our bluebirds are building a new nest. The woodpeckers on the feeder don’t know it’s a new world.

It is for us to nurture, to love, to protect and honor all of us.

To seek truth in the smokescreen,

To make sense of truth.

To act in truth for a better life.

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What is the Feminine Side of Yoga?

It was the 80s in Southern California and I’d wandered into a well attended yoga class at a local gym. The teacher was a woman.

She approached me purposefully as class let out and asked, “What do you think about doing yoga from a more feminine side?

WHAT!

It took about three decades to answer that question.

Yoga was interesting though I can’t remember why I thought so at the time. Mostly I was curious. When I was younger yoga wasn’t even an organized thing.

Dance was the thing I liked. Long ago in New York there was Haitian dance that fed my soul and also a modern movement class that fed my ego.

That class was a disciplined method. Precise. A purposeful brain teaser.Haitian was the opposite.

Lose your mind. Complete freedom within the form.

Wild animal wondrous Voodoo magic, fierce, graceful,bewitching, athletic and feminine at once.

I moved between the fancy Upper West Side studio graced by the city’s elite to a condemned building on the lower East Side where I stood out among people of different color and cultures. Upper West Side ~ pop music, Lower East Side ~ live percussion. Polished wood to worn wood, view of Central Park to pathway through the homeless.

I lived a double life or even a quadruple one but no one ever picked me out for being wrong or a slacker. Or a guy.

Years and years later, I am sitting with a psychic. I’ve met several over the course of this life. Why would I go? People I believed in believed in them. Simple. And compelling.

Like others, she refers to a spirit guide who is appears to be mine. She says, he is telling me…..

He?

Oh yes. He. You are entirely male.

What!

Your guides are only masculine.

I recall the first psychic I met in NY in my twenties. She was a Channel. She kept saying, he and she said, he’s calling you darling. I’ve never heard him call anyone darling before.

You know?

Well I don’t but I never disbelieve anything until it’s proven impossible and so.

The weather turned suddenly cold in Nashville. I’m beginning a yoga class as I remember a description of bones being yin… dry and cold. The organs are yang. Heat.

To balance the brittle in our bones we begin to move from the front and depth of the organs and blood.

The spine is felt in the back body, the intuitive body, the receiving body. We take a moment to notice.

We will not harden what is already hard. We will move from the front body which is the way the nervous system works anyway and let the receptors in back be calm and gentle.

I realize even as I teach them that most of the yoga I’ve studied has focused on bones. Most of the tension I’ve felt is the feeling of spine and sacrum. So much attention there had hardened me.

And before I even saturated my life with yoga? Why did that teacher recognize the masculine in me?

I reckon that the reason I was drawn to Iyengar Yoga was the reason I persevered through the first dance class mentioned here. It demanded absolute perfection and attention to detail that was familiar. That environment would emerge in me later characterized by personal eccentricity. There was a militaristic quality that I was sort of used to as a kid. Structure and alignment for sanity.

Anyone who knows me would be shocked by that. Because I grew up in a loving home, given all one could hope for including scads of freedom. And more so, I was a recalcitrant. I ran wild and against the grain. But there’s a kind of OCD thing that runs through my mother’s family of overachievers that stealthily bled into me.

I am telling you a story that speaks to the unfolding of yoga that makes it ever interesting. It portrays our experience of ourselves as fluid. It is a shape shifter, an enabler, a shrink, coach, parent and child.

So what is the feminine side of yoga? It’s the folding and unfolding and relationship of organ to organ. It is core strength born from breath that bone follows but does not initiate. It is bone as the structure and the interior as home.

It is home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Downwind From the Crematorium

It flows from the top. Rogue winds carry the stench of decay. Trolls climbed on willing shoulders to the once hallowed house on the hill.  Now shoulders bow under the weight of our missteps. Some minds blown and others twisted.  Handcuff the free press. Release the free radicals. Banish charity. Dishonor agreements. Taunt, flaunt, violate. Ceaseless cycles of venomous discharge desecrate, devastate ravage and rage against the fabric of our country. That fabric that was flammable, flawed and fragile is being shredded and replaced with funereal shrouds.

Layla my dog and I head down the fire road toward the farm.

What’s that smell in the air? Chemical? Decay? The death of the E.P.A.?

Here at the Agricultural Center a group of four unlikely like-minded women from different worlds walk, talk and run their best buddy dogs. An unpleasant smell dismays me on this otherwise fine first crisp and dewy day of autumn as Layla and I round the lower field waiting for the others to show.

I smell disaster.

Bouncing between sleepless nights and stressful days, for the second time I’ve got symptoms of flu that disappear after a final collapse into a night of exhausted surrendered sleep.

It’s a virus that’s going around. Like wild fires, floods and opiates.  Warning bells toll in the ether. The force shields are down. We are subject to invasion.

Glenanne arrives with her dog Lucy. Christine is behind her with Chelsea. They want to walk the fire road I just came from. “There’s a weird really strong smell down there”, I tell them. I don’t want to go back.

Glenanne tells us the little red brick building down there is a crematorium for road kill. It’s not public knowledge. Carnage quietly turns to ashes under the ancient oaks amid serene white domed wooden barns and meeting halls. Moms gather to exercise, babies on backs and in strollers. Visitors amble among slave quarters and along paths beside the idyllic horse pasture that houses the police force’s tremendous and gentle beasts.

The surface is serene but listen to us as the dogs play and witness the rumbling underground.

We are all downwind from the crematorium.  The stink comes from the rotting head of a once youthful body that declared itself open minded, open hearted and democratic. It is clearly corrupted. It stinks.

On the other hand, under the oaks a group of friends share the rhythm of a turning season. There is a hint of new in the air. Change is always there and change cleanses the past. History is absolute but our impressions and focus shift. Rumbling leads to action. Action leads to change.

Here downwind from the crematorium, I smell decay but above me a lone hawk soars like a Phoenix.

 

 

 

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Is Your Relationship to Your Fellow Man Making You Sick?

Five thirty A.M. the reporters at NPR assault me with the news of the deadliest mass shooting in our history. I am awake.

My tired mind forces a memory scan. Who do I know in Vegas this week? It seems just yesterday my friend Holly said she is going there for something. Shit. Was it this week?

Disaster comes upon disaster, one shoved down as the other surfaces coming with more and more frequency.  The Trump disaster overshadows all. Hope is slipping.

The webinar I watched on Alzheimer’s hits my frontal lobe. The doctor listed the places on earth called Blue Zones where people have the least medical issues including Alzheimer’s. In the U.S. there is one place. It is Loma Linda California. He says it is not any particular diet as much as a clean diet devoid of alcohol and smoking that keeps them healthy but there is more than that. There is community. Love and charity prevail not instigated by crisis but on a regular basis. It is the basis.

We cannot thrive on a daily diet of grief. The stress is killing us as fast as fast food, climate disasters and drug overdoses. Stress corrodes the brain.

We live in a war zone. We are at war with each other. We are at war with our President. We are at war with our own failings.

My husband notes on shooting a documentary about Trump supporters that the commonality is the question, what about me? He perceives an overarching narcissism that trumps empathy.

Put on your own oxygen mask before your children’s. Who doesn’t know that? You need to love yourself before you can love someone else. That’s common knowledge too, right? Charity begins at home. We are advised to look after ourselves in order to become. But how do we know what is too much charity and what is too much self interest.

After all, for true self interest we should be concerned as much with the people around us as ourselves. They are our environment. They are the fabric of our lives.

There is a social implication of controlling others or overwhelming them which is described in the yoga text, Yoga Sutras as bramacharya. This does not define dictatorship versus charity but allows us to consider staying in our own lane either way. However bramacharya does not stand alone. It co-exists with a call to kindness, generosity and contentment with oneself and one’s lot.

 Insecurity is the enemy.

Are we stuck between those that wonder what about us and those that worry what about me? Do we rail against what seems an extreme of one or the other? There is so much need for those outside our pack and also so much instinct to gather the loved ones and shut the door.

A Pakistani Muslim friend of mine daughter started kindergarten this year. She invited the class to her daughter’s birthday party and only a handful of people responded and came. She found out another girl whose invitations went out later had a party the same day and that’s where most of the class had gone. They hadn’t invited her daughter and they hadn’t responded to her invitation though the policy at school is for invites to go through the school and to everyone. My friend had an emotional crisis. Why was her daughter shunned? And then she got sicker than she’s ever been. She tells me it’s the flu and she felt like she was dying.

I write this because it seems a metaphor for all our sickness, this social disease. This dis-ease.     My friend is used to a strong community. She is an outsider here. What does this do to our bodies?

Today another person went off the rails and unloaded bullets into strangers. We don’t know why yet. There will be demands for better mental health screening, for gun control and for tightening up against terrorism if they find any links to a terrorist group outside the U.S. I doubt any of it will successfully happen.

Human beings need a chance to work a job that allows them to care for themselves and their children. We need to be educated. We need to eat and drink cleanly. We need to have fun. We need time to have fun. We need to live a life beyond survival. We need time and space to be charitable. We need friends and family who are not crazy to care about us. We need to feel secure.

Tech life allows us to find new avenues of isolation and rudeness.  The benefits of information at a fingertip seem small compared to the disruption of our social lives. There’s no turning back but there has to be some measure of discernment and that is the problem. There is no true north. That star there? It’s fake. It’s that easy to dismiss something that is accurate.

We are untethered. Fact has become opinion even to its face. There is no moral anchor. Where will it come from? I don’t know. I know for a student of yoga the moral restraints and observances as described in the Sutras is a useful checklist, as useful as any commandment from the bible.

If it seems I’m saying that yoga will save us think again. I know lots of morally bankrupt yoga folks. No one is exempt from hypocrisy. This is a think piece. I’m thinking out loud. Hope it gives you something to consider about yourself as it does for me. And if want to read the basis of modern yoga’s moral system, this is a good place to start. And by the way, I don’t know that it was written so much as a moral system as a way to manage personal energy so that me, myself and I can find peace within whatever situation I’m in. If it is a way of separation, it is at least a separation that leaves room for inclusion. Now go figure that riddle out.

 

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Ask Alice How She Feels Right Now.

EAT  ME

 

My body is sensitive to drugs, to food, to thoughts and so is yours but you may not notice. So many of us have trained ourselves or been trained to disassociate from discomfort that when asked how we feel we have no words. Perhaps we realize we feel nothing but confusion. It’s a modern malady. But then in an industrial world resting or too much self care is viewed as self indulgent or weak.

 

I took CBD* oil (Phytocannabinoid Diol)combined with other hemp plant compounds for joint pain and began to notice I was mellow in the way I felt after yoga and bodywork.  I hadn’t realized how anxious I’d become. The nation is suffering from the effects of the last election and maybe that’s it but yoga wasn’t fixing it except for moments.

 

We live in a garden of plants that support the health and longevity of our human bodies. The fountain of youth is a dream or nightmare but there is some basis to believing in its existence.

Though I primarily use plants for medicine, this plant provided me a lesson in personal power. It is challenging to regulate how much I need of it day to day or even hour to hour by how I feel. In a world where even we yogis hand over the power to a doctor when our bodies concern and confuse us, this substance requires you to FEEL in order to self-regulate. This creates a healthy dynamic in the relationship between doctor and patient. This is personal power beyond moving the body or centering the mind without sickness. While I am a patient that goes to a doctor armed with information, I still have doubt about what does and does not work in many circumstances. The use of this oil demands I trust myself. (I am compelled to issue a disclaimer that if a person needs help and does not have the ability to self regulate, a doctor’s advice is essential.)

 

This is both yoga and beyond yoga where yoga binds consciousness to spirit and matter using the body as the vehicle. That vehicle is an energy system in a state of

Flux,

Imbalance,

Movement,

Motion,

Change,

IMPERMANENCE.

 

When we become sensitive to our bodies,

When we become intimate with ourselves in relation to other,

When we are able to sharpen our attention to choose happiness,

We may find ourselves living in yoga.

 

 

*CBD is a molecule in the hemp plant whose cannabinoid system like cannabis supports human receptors in the brain and body called endocannabinoid receptors. The plant and we share a genetic code in some way.

Please do not run out and buy CBD. Hemp is not very absorbable and you will waste your money if the product does not have a carrier for the blood system. Also, make sure you get a product where every batch is tested at a reliable lab. Organic does not mean clean.

 

 

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Go Ask Alice Why Yoga Isn’t Enough.

“This one makes you taller and this one makes you smaller.”

 

I began this post a month ago and like many of my projects it went the wayside. It was a view on taking CBD oil and personal power. I learned something I want to share about that. I will make that a separate post to follow this.

 

I picked this up because Michael Stone the Buddhist teacher, yoga teacher, activist died suddenly. I knew him from his writing and from reading a manuscript that was an intimate look into the soul of the man through his ongoing correspondence with a friend. I could feel his broken heart. He was so smart, so clear and yet lost. It’s hard to explain. I never knew him but I felt like I got him. Maybe I recognized something I knew from myself. Maybe I’m not alone. He had thousands of followers and friends.

He was broken for the last time and in trying to put himself back together seemed to make a desperate choice to take a street drug. It killed him. He had bi-polar disorder and apparently had tried many avenues of treatment over the years to manage it.

 

I write this now because this morning I recalled my first friend in Nashville who was a yoga teacher of great skill and lineage. I remembered her shock when I told her I was getting a massage which I did a few times a year as a treat. She asked me how I could do yoga and not get bodywork as she did every week. I was surprised.  Although I taught and led strong classes I didn’t feel like I wanted bodywork. I didn’t need it. And I wondered why someone doing yoga was so needy for outside help. That circle of yogis engaged in a practice of psychotherapy as well. They were upturning stones for answers at a time I was not questioning much.  I was content.

 

I eventually got hurt which lead to compensation that took me down a rabbit warren I couldn’t retreat from. I understood the need for help. I couldn’t see myself objectively. I just felt pain.

 

That pain correlated to what I felt was the degradation of the practice of yoga in a place that had been the Holy Grail here in Nashville.

My physical pain became tied to emotional pain that never resolved except through acceptance which in my opinion is limited.

 

So I’m publishing this with a different bias. My thirty years of experience working with people through movement and yoga revealed that people come to yoga to be unbroken. Yes, they come to be fit but in my experience, in my classes even in the day they were pure power, I found hunters looking for sustenance.

It aggravates me to see the sea of mainstream conclusions written about yoga and meditation solving the human condition. I do both and I advocate both. Yoga and meditation make profound shifts in our consciousness toward awareness. I’m a fan of awareness but it’s not always pleasant and a person who is awake can also be hyper sensitive.  Sometimes yoga is not enough.

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