The Unexamined Practice Isn’t Worth Doing

yogaclass

Let’s face it. Yoga is not what it used to be. And let me be the first to say, I think that’s a very good thing. When the west first encountered the discipline of yoga it was a centuries old tradition based upon the sacred relationship of guru and disciple. The average yoga practitioner in India was a young boy, and the guru (or teacher) was a much older adult. The nature of this relationship demanded respect for authority and an unquestioned acceptance of the teachings that were offered. One of my favorite quotes from the former lineage holder of Ashtanga Vinysasa Yoga, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, sums this up quite nicely. When asked by an interviewer the one quality he thought was the most important in a yoga student, he briskly turned to the camera and sternly deadpanned, “Obedience!” Well, western students aren’t so good at that. We question everything. But honestly, when it comes to the practice of modern yoga, I think perhaps we are not asking enough. Here’s some questions worth considering: Is leading a group of people simultaneously through the same sequence of yoga postures really the best way to tailor the practice of yoga to an individual’s needs? Why is a discipline that’s main purpose is to create inner stillness taught in a room full of mirrors, or to popular music, or by a teacher who won’t stop talking? Are the postures that were designed for an eastern body hundreds of years ago really appropriate… [Continue Reading]

Stuck on Front Splits?

front splits

Fronts splits could well be considered one of the most sought after poses in the Adamantine® Yoga sequence. When most people first encounter the practice they long to be able to step gracefully forward from Downward Facing Dog and effortlessly execute this posture. However, few practitioners begin with the range of motion in their hips to do this position correctly, if at all. Adamantine® Yoga devised two modifications, Kneeling Lunge and Kneeling Pyramid, to take a practitioner with even the most remedial level of flexibility deep into the full form of this posture. What most people do not know, however, is that one of these modifications is significantly more important than the other. Over my years as a teacher I have introduced many people to these modifications, and one thing I notice time and time again is the students who can effortlessly arch their spine into a deep backbend in Kneeling Lunge have a much easier time with Front Splits, even if they struggle with Kneeling Pyramid. This might surprise you, but Front Splits has much more to do with the flexibility of your back leg in extension than it does the front leg in flexion. It’s not your hamstring length that matters, but your hip flexors. And nothing works better to target tight hip flexors than Kneeling Lunge. Whether you practice this position daily, feel like you don’t need it, or have never tried it, my hope is to give you a few of my own personal tips and… [Continue Reading]

On the Fallacy of Ethical Vegetarianism

vegetarianturkey

About this time last year I came to a personal crossroads of sorts. I had spent the past ten years refining my diet using my yoga practice as an index of what did and did not agree with my digestion. Systemic inflammation can manifest as tension in the connective tissues of the body, and yoga postures are the perfect gauge for determining food intolerances and sub-clinical allergies. Through this process I had gone from being an unconscious eater in my pre-yoga days to becoming a strict vegetarian, then a vegan, and finally a raw foodie. I even one-upped the gluten-free advocates by swearing off of all grains. But I quickly discovered that beans didn’t work for reasons I won’t go into, fruit was causing questionable effects on my blood sugar levels, and nuts were too high in fat to be considered a good source of protein. I was running out of options. Being a long-time yoga practitioner, I had naturally gravitated towards vegetarianism as a means of manifesting my practice of non-violence, and for the first time in years I found myself seriously considering eating meat. But before I was willing to give it a try, I had to wrap my head around the ethical dilemma I faced. At about the same time I began to struggle with this, survival shows started to trend on television. Although there are many unique spins on the concept, for the most part these reality TV shows center around one or more individuals attempting… [Continue Reading]

Why I’ve Never Felt Grateful Until Now

gratitude

Thanksgiving has never been a big deal for me personally. Celebrations centered around food simply weren’t a part of my family life growing up as my mom suffered from a life-long eating disorder. Besides, more often than not, I’ve found myself alone for the holidays. It’s not that I haven’t had the opportunities to gather with friends and family on Thanksgiving – I always do. It’s just that I’ve never felt the appeal of those situations. I’m an introvert at heart, and if I can avoid a social situation I will. Oh, and I don’t believe I’ve ever really experienced a connection with the true spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday – which from what I understand is gratitude. That’s just being honest. In the past I don’t think I’ve been a very grateful person and as I reflected on the quality of gratitude before sitting to write this post, I may have just figured out why. I think gratitude requires someone or something to be grateful to. And I think I’ve lived my whole life under the false pretenses that there is no power bigger than myself that’s looking out for me. But on closer examination, I’m starting to realize that I might be wrong. As a child I was raised strict Roman Catholic. As I grew in awareness the pre-packaged explanations of ultimate reality simply didn’t hold up. I don’t think I’m unique in this way. Many of us in the western world find ourselves as spiritual orphans of… [Continue Reading]

Special Announcement: New Studio!

adamantine gsp

This has been a exciting week! Ann and I made an offer on a home (our first) and I just signed the lease on a new studio space for Adamantine® Yoga. Things are changing fast. It was just a little over two years ago when we first moved to Des Moines, Iowa. We rented a large loft on the western edge of downtown, and thanks to a generous (and yoga-loving) building manager we began to offer Adamantine® Yoga Guided Self-Practice classes in our living room. Honestly, at first I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had just set aside my main source of income for the previous 5 years during which I had certified some 500 teachers in a freestyle approach to hatha yoga. I couldn’t teach something I didn’t believe in anymore. Not only had I discovered a better way for people to practice yoga, but I knew I had found a new business model that would allow for yoga teachers to make a sustainable income. However my yoga teacher training students didn’t seem to believe me. Who would? Everyone in the modern yoga industry seems reconciled to the idea that teaching yoga is a bad career choice. At one point when I was teaching a workshop called the “Business of Yoga,” one of my students actually raised their hand and made a simple, but challenging observation. “But that’s not how you make your living,” he said. And it wasn’t. I was selling yoga teacher trainings. I was already… [Continue Reading]