Ahimsa pratisthayam tat saminidhau vaira tyagah.
In the presence of one established in non-violence, all hostility ceases.
Yoga Sutra II:35
Nonviolence (or non-harming, as ahimsa is sometimes translated) became an important ideal for me when I got sober in 2009. I didn’t want to be the “tornado ripping through other people’s lives” anymore. For the first time, I began to consider the effects of my actions on others, and realized how harmful I could be, even unintentionally.
I had been vegetarian for some time but decided that I needed to become vegan to match my behavior to my ideals. Veganism is a major part of my ahimsa practice. It means much more than not eating dairy or meat.
Continue reading “Ahimsa, Veganism, and Yoga Sutra II:35” »
I suffer from depression. Maybe it came with the alcoholism. Maybe it led to the alcoholism. Either way, it’s part of my life and sometimes, like recently, it’s all-consuming.
Photo by Michelle Craig
Lately, my mat has felt like a life raft. Not in a “yoga is saving my life” way. Not even in a “my practice is the only thing keeping me sane” way. It’s a life raft because I feel like I’ve been shipwrecked in the middle of the ocean, and if I don’t hang on to my raft, I’m going to drown.
Continue reading “Depreshtanga” »
In the culinary world, tapas means a selection of small plates in Spanish cuisine.
In the yoga world, it’s something else entirely. It’s one of the niyamas, or personal observances. In Sanskrit, tapas is literally translated as “heat.” Ashtangis often consider it the heat that is generated during daily practice. Tapas also means discipline, something that daily practice definitely requires.
Continue reading “Tapas: Not Just Delicious Food in Small Portions” »
Yesterday, I touched ducklings. A mama duck was leading her flock across the street and jumped up on a median that was too high for her babies to follow. Eight ducklings hopped at the edge of the curb, cheeping and flapping useless little triangle wings. They looked like popcorn. Mama quacked and paced, but couldn’t figure out how to help them.
This is not my photo. I didn’t stop to take pictures of the ducklings’ distress.
Continue reading “Ducking my Instincts” »
It’s not a huge secret that I’m a sober Ashtangi. My sobriety date is April 1, 2009, and I’m still active in the program that helped me change from a suicidal drunk to a human being of service. My life hinges on me being free from drugs and alcohol.
How I feel hinges on the diligence of my practice. Being sober makes practice possible for me, and practice makes daily life possible. Ever seen the “If you think I’m bitchy now, you should see me when I don’t do yoga!” e-cards, or the “I do yoga to keep the crazy away” sweatshirts? They’re pretty accurate.
Continue reading “Twelve Steps for Ashtanga Yoga” »
Last weekend, I booked my flight to go practice with Maia for the first week of January 2015. I’m beyond excited. My practice is more fluid and focused thanks to the changes we implemented together. It’s also become easier and steadier. Sthira sukham asanam, right?
But this post isn’t about me, so let’s get on to the good stuff. Continue reading ““Yoga’s not about following a path of feeling good.” An Interview with Maia Heiss…Part 2” »
Sadly, the Indianapolis Star didn’t post my interview with the fantastic Kino MacGregor online. I’ll have to scan a hard copy and post it here. Until then, let me share our post-workshop conversation with you.
After flying into Indianapolis from Miami (on the day of the Monumental Marathon, AKA Crazy Traffic Day) teaching two two-hour workshops, practicing, signing dozens of books and posing for dozens of pictures, Kino MacGregor was still smiling and full of energy. Continue reading “A (second) Conversation with Kino MacGregor” »
I spent a wonderful week on the West Coast and I’m still playing catch-up.
Stay tuned for interviews with Maia Heiss and Kino MacGregor. Continue reading “Coming soon…” »
Eighteen months after my very first attempt at running, I ran a half-marathon. I finished with a time of 1:40:35. That’s pretty fast, especially for a beginner, but I wanted to get faster. I didn’t want to be “fast for a beginner.” I wanted to win races. At the rate I was improving, it was possible.
Continue reading “Running into Yoga” »
I’ve been a dedicated ashtangi for a little more than a year and a half. At first, my practice was less than traditional. To be fair, it wasn’t all my fault. Our Mysore program had two different teachers with very different styles, so there wasn’t as much consistency as there is in most Mysore rooms. Continue reading “Treatise on Tradition” »
My teacher Amanda Markland gives me an assist into wheel.
From guest blogger Auriel Benker:
Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah – Yoga quiets the chatter of the mind
One thing that drew me to yoga was its close connection with meditation. My mind was constantly running and I was searching for a way to quiet my “monkey mind.” Continue reading “Yoga Quiets the Chatter of the Mind” »
As mentioned in a previous post, both me and my friend and guest blogger Auriel learned Garbha Pindasana and Kukkutasana recently, and it’s been interesting to watch our very different bodies adapt. Continue reading “Body Envy” »
In the Primary Series, we talk about getting new poses, but with every new pose also comes the vinyasa that follows it.
For the uninitiated, we ashtangis do a vinyasa in between most poses, and in between the left and right expressions of them. After exiting the posture, we inhale, press the palms into the ground, lift our bodies up, exhale, and toss our legs back to lower through chataranga dandasana, then inhale to urdhva mukha svanasana (updog) and exhale back to adho mukha svanasana (downward-facing dog). Then it’s inhale and jump up, lifting the hips and exhaling to float the body through the arms and into position for the next pose. Continue reading “The Power of Transitions” »
You’ll have to forgive me for this pseudo-academic rant. I’m working on a paper examining the commodification of yoga as it gained popularity in the western world and moved away from the instructions for practicing yoga provided in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and thought I would share this short excerpt. Continue reading “Yoga and Capitalism?” »
This video helped me get up and get my ass to class this morning.
Chanti, chanti, chanti.
On a weekday morning, if you walk into Indianpolis’ Cityoga around 7:30 AM, you can find me on the floor in a puddle of sweat, thighs over my shoulders, ankles crossed at the crown of my head, desperately trying to clasp my hands behind my back. Continue reading “The practice is the teacher” »
Running: the sport that brought me to yoga. Look how tiny my arms were from the lack of chatarungas!
I took my first yoga class in the basement studio of Virginia School of the Arts in 1999. I was thirteen. I remember being frustrated with my limited flexibility but loving the physical exertion and concentration it took to do things like try to bend my front leg to ninety degrees while I pressed my back foot into the ground in Virabhadrasana B, my skinny teenaged arms reaching to opposite walls of the room. Continue reading “Finding Yoga” »