Face the Music (or Lack Thereof)

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I recently ran into a woman that tried Adamantine® Yoga for about a month but then decided to go back to the studio she came from.  Perplexed by how a seasoned practitioner like her didn’t see what I see in the practice, I wanted to understand. Location of the studio? Nope. Lack of connection with the teachers? Nope. Too expensive? Nope. Didn’t like the sequence?  Nope. What’s left? “No music,” she said, and then explained how the silence made it difficult for her to escape her own thoughts and she left her mat more anxious, not less. She needed the music to get out of her own mind. I could relate. It has since occurred to me that silence is very different than stillness. Not long ago I endured a similar phase of life dreading the 14-hour drive between home and college because there I was – alone except for the demons of self-loathing, guilt, anxiety, and worry that filled the spaces of silence. I hated it, at times equating it to torture. As a music enthusiast I remedied the discomfort with some good (loud) tunes, getting lost in their ability to stir up more positive soulful emotions. For this reason, music and the movement it elicits – be it physical or emotional – has been a savior to me especially in those long painful hours of driving west. When I first started my Adamantine® practice I too was disappointed by the lack of music, until a conversation with James… [Continue Reading]

Rainbow Unicorn Land

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Once upon a time, a very long time ago, in a land far, far away, there was a beautiful flowing series of movements that all of the people would gather to practice each and every morning. They would rise very early, lay out their magical mats, and gracefully breeze through the most complex of postures with big smiles on their faces, gorgeous hair, and absolutely perfect makeup. After practicing they would sip soy chai lattes, laugh in the most carefree of ways, and chat frivolously about the shopping they were planning to do for the rest of the day. They called this practice yoga, and it was the most dreamy, magical elixir that the people had ever discovered. It healed all wounds, righted all wrongs, and made everyone always happy. Always. Rainbow Unicorn Land is, of course, our land, only reimagined in the creative (and persuasive) minds of advertising executives. Modern marketing is replete with images of dancers-turned-models as they effortlessly twist into their graceful interpretation of the ancient practice. Yoga is used to sell lipstick, auto-insurance, hair products and even fast-food. The ads make the promise of youth, beauty, and effortless joy as a result of practicing yoga, or at the very least, they insinuate it. And I think it’s possible that in the process of using yoga postures for the purpose of marketing, the media has started to redefine our expectations of the practice. I see the results of this false promise every time a student confronts the… [Continue Reading]

Yoga for Introverts (and Extroverts, too!)

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To the uninformed, the word “introvert” can carry negative connotations. In the modern world with the ever-increasing ability to allow complete strangers to know the most intimate details of your life, our digital culture requires a certain degree of comfort with extroversion that I have personally never found easy. To be honest, I’ve never found it desirable either. I like being alone. I prefer it in fact. I find most social situations tasking, and I replenish my energy from the time I spend by myself. From what I understand, this is the core quality that defines an introvert – where you draw your energy from. But the modern yoga industry, similar to the rest of our culture, all but demands an extroverted nature. The strong community aspect of most yoga studios requires that you practice in crowded rooms, hug total strangers, and feel comfortable sharing your daily yoga practice with people who you may never see again. I’m not saying this design doesn’t work; groups create a support system for the extroverts among us. Dependent of others as a source of energy, they thrive when surrounded by their peers. For many people that’s the perfect entrance point for beginning a yoga practice. But if you are dependent on the energy of a group-led class in order to do your yoga practice I’ve got news for you, that’s eventually going to stunt your growth. Classes like this will only allow for you to flourish to a certain point, and then you… [Continue Reading]

The Purple Carrot Effect: Dealing with Inflammation on the Mat

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As James has told us many times, Adamantine® Yoga and a healthy diet is all we need for the highest form of self-care.  I couldn’t agree more.  In fact, I am amazed at how the “less is more” approach to our practice is influencing me off the mat with my dietary choices and nutritional point-of-view. I came across an Australian study (pub 2010 British Journal of Nutrition) recently on purple carrots that simplified my thinking on food and deepened my belief that nutrition is not only powerful enough to inspire an authentic elimination of “bad” foods from the diet – it can actually antidote them.  As an Adamantine® Yoga practitioner, this idea was even more inspiring to me thinking about Monday morning practices when my body deals with more inflammation than usual from a weekend of less-than-ideal nutritional choices. The study: A group of rats was placed on the SAD (Standard American Diet) including the high-carbohydrate, high-fat foods most Westerners consume in abundance.  They also included drinking water with a 25% fructose solution to simulate the corn syrup found in soda. Two months on the diet and the rats developed metabolic syndrome with weight gain around the middle, thickening of their heart walls, high blood pressure, fatty livers, insulin resistance, high triglycerides and cholesterol. After another eight weeks on the SAD, half the rats were given purple carrot juice to drink in addition to the high-fructose water.  In another eight weeks, all of their symptoms had healed.  Their heart and… [Continue Reading]

Intellectual Discoveries Mean Nothing on the Mat

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Every so often a student will approach me claiming that they went to a handstand workshop or had a famous yoga teacher workshop their backbend and as a result have magically acquired the ability to execute a perfect handstand or effortlessly drop back into wheel pose after months or years of struggle and frustration. They’re so excited that this person shared this one little tidbit of information that completely changed their yoga practice. All it took was one simple statement and drastic improvement was made! Sound too good to be true? That’s because it is. Ninety-nine percent of the time when the time comes to prove their newly acquired skills, they’re stuck in the exact same place as before. On a similar note, a student will sometimes approach me wanting to discuss a posture or transition that they have been struggling with in their practice. While most people just have a legitimate question about something they’re not clear on, sometimes people will fall into the trap of obsessively asking questions regarding a pose their body finds difficult to execute. They’re convinced that if I just explain to them the perfect moment to engage their shoulders or which muscles to fire then they will surely be able to do a perfect handstand. Or if I simply explain to them exactly how to move their arms or the precise angle their feet should be at then they will surely be able to stand up out of wheel pose. Surely I possess a… [Continue Reading]