Emergence and Yoga

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When observed in isolation a single grain of sand can’t possibly exhibit the beauty of a wind swept sand dune. This is an example of an emergent structure that arises only when countless particles of sand gather together and form something greater. Likewise a single molecule of water doesn’t contain the quality of wetness, a single snowflake doesn’t require a shovel, and practicing yoga once in awhile will not reveal the potential of the discipline to profoundly alter the course of your life. An emergent property is a quality which a collection or complex system has, but which the individual members lack. And the spiritual qualities innate in the practice of yoga are of an emergent nature. A single practice doesn’t reveal much. But gathered in succession, day after day, over the course of a lifetime, something unexpected arises. Kindness emerges and anger fades. Contentment becomes a way of life and the mindless ambition for things to be other than they are disappears. Life becomes simple, once again.

Encouraging Words

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Have you ever wondered where the Adamantine® Yoga tagline “Practice Heroically” comes from? A few years ago James encountered a poem by a Zen master called Encouraging Words that used that very phrase in quite a provocative way. I wanted to share this poem with our community of Adamantine® Yoga practitioners, not just to explain where that phrase came from, but also to share how powerfully it impacted me. This poem caused me to pause and consider what it means to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life. Prior to reading this piece, I had never really considered the thoughts and feelings that I will have in the moments right before I die. I found that this poem made me contemplate those things that I will regret, those things I simply won’t care about, and those things that I will wish I had spent more of my time doing. To me, the message of the poem suggests that the most worthy goal in life is to work with devotion to connect to your highest self and to spirit all the days of your life. For me, I find that my practice of Adamantine® Yoga is my path to doing just that.   Encouraging Words by Zen Master Guishan Some day you will die. Lying on your sick bed about to breathe your last, you will be assailed by every kind of pain.   Your mind will be filled with fears and anxieties and you will not know where to go or… [Continue Reading]

Metamorphosis

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“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”  – Richard Bach We are, each of us, born into a particular set of circumstances over which we have absolutely no control. To a particular set of parents, to a particular culture, in a particular part of the world. Each experience we have from the moment of our birth onwards builds a momentum that propels us into becoming the person we eventually discover ourselves to be, if we take the time to discover who we are at all. From there we have a choice, let that momentum continue to push us towards it’s inevitable conclusion, or struggle to change, to become the person we would prefer to be. I would prefer to be kinder. I would prefer to be stronger. I would prefer to be a force for positivity in my world. And a caterpillar would prefer to fly. To this end, the caterpillar willingly submits to a process of intense change by spinning an intricate web of silk fibers into a cocoon, and surrendering to forces it can’t consciously comprehend. And I submit daily to a rigid practice of 20 postures from which I can’t escape, and the power of which I will likely never fully understand. We both trust that on the other end of this transformation something beautiful will emerge.

On Mastery

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In my opinion it should be considered a grammatical rule that the word “yoga” and the word “master” should rarely be combined. Not that such a state has never been attained, but that the overuse of the term risks diminishing the meaning. It is beyond the scope of this post (and my abilities) to describe what it may/may not be like to master the practice of yoga. I have no idea. Anyone who has yet to reach this pinnacle experience for themselves is not qualified to comment on the condition. But that said, I wish to briefly explore the type of dedication and commitment it might take to get there. And to share with you the solace I find in this realization. I had always heard that the path of yoga is long, but I couldn’t quite explain why. There are many challenging goals one can strive for in life that seemingly provide for some degree of expertise in a relatively short period of time, but this is not so in yoga. Often times when new students start the practice they equate the movements with some sort of exercise and expect to excel at it in a manner of weeks or months. Each time I find myself saying to them the very same thing. Your yoga practice is measured not in months, but in years. But how many years? I’ve often wondered that myself. But only recently did I figure it out. Popularized by the 2008 book “Outliers” by Malcolm… [Continue Reading]

Good Enough

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Recently, internationally revered yoga teacher Kino Macgregor confessed to suffering a debilitating hip injury. According to a post made on her Instagram account, the injury occurred while assisting a student in an arm balance and was so painful that she was unable to bear weight on her affected leg. Having followed Kino on the internet for the last six years, I have always put her practice, teaching, and lifestyle on a bit of a pedestal, and yet something just didn’t seem quite right to me. How could someone who has become a YouTube celebrity and made an entire career out of spreading health and wellness succumb so easily to such a devastating injury? I thought back to some of Kino’s older social media posts. I remembered one photo where she was beaming in over-splits with her legs on two chairs, with a caption stating that her goal was to sink her hips all the way down to the floor. I remembered another video she posted where she had an assistant help her put both of her legs so far behind her head that she was able to bind both of arms over and around the tops of her ankles. Ironically, at the very beginning of this video Kino expresses that she is “always interested in working deeper in the hip joints”. While there is of course no way of knowing what exactly precipitated her injury, I believe Kino went too far. She claims that her countless photos and videos that… [Continue Reading]