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]

Exorcise

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Do you ever wonder why it is that so many people seem to get yoga wrong? To your average non-practitioner it’s just another form of exercise, like cardio-kickboxing or step-aerobics. But any seasoned yogi will tell you there’s far more to this than just getting your heart rate up and toning your thighs. To the over-zealous religious folks it’s a process of conjuring up demonic forces and/or converting to eastern mysticism. Gosh, I hope it’s not. I’ve spent far too long practicing yoga to find this out now. Which is it? Are we just exercising or do I need an exorcism? Anti-yoga sentiments once again became a hot topic in the Christian community when the recently retired Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, wrote a letter in which he advised Catholics to steer clear of yoga because of its basis in Hinduism. He suggested they “take up other methods of exercise that don’t place their faith in unnecessary danger.” But this message isn’t new. Just search “Christians Against Yoga” and you will find dozens of articles condemning the practice and emphatically stating “Christians and Yoga Do Not Mix!” One article made the claim that “we as Christians do not want to make our minds more flexible.” I had to laugh out loud. It may well be that a more ironic truth has never been uttered. There’s even an organization that has blatantly ripped off traditional yoga postures and renamed them “Praise Moves” in an effort to make the discipline… [Continue Reading]

When We Were Kings

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Forgive me for a moment for sounding overdramatic, but I believe that the average person in the western world severely lacks perspective. And to be honest lately it’s been bothering me more and more. It started a few months back when I was on vacation. We stayed in a luxurious room with a whirlpool tub so big that I could barely sit upright without risking sliding to the bottom, a King sized bed, room service from a host of nearby restaurants, personal robes, and endless in-room entertainment options. The biggest problem I faced that weekend was figuring out where to eat. No joke. And truthfully, that weekend wasn’t that much different from my daily life. My problems simply aren’t problems, not really. But my lifestyle is by no means out of the ordinary. In fact, it’s likely a bit austere compared to the decadence of even your average modern person living in the western world. We live like kings. Better than kings, actually. Your average king hardly had the access you and I take for granted to the myriad of culinary delectables and libations that we can have at a moments notice. And even the most decadent of castles in the Middle Ages contained what most would consider a severe shortage of comfortable places to sit and would appear all but void of entertainment options Yet as a culture we are collectively more depressed, stressed-out, medicated, and inebriated than at any other time in human history, and in constant search… [Continue Reading]

Quadrana

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Practicing mindfulness is a trend that has been circulating in recent years in an attempt to offset the stress and anxiety caused by today’s fast-paced and chaotic world. Kids, jobs, computers, and cell-phones are just some of the things in life constantly pulling our awareness away from what is happening right in front of us, robbing us of enjoying the present moment. It certainly seems that the more ubiquitous technology becomes the less still our minds are. My mind was once so disorganized and chaotic that it would wander off and start thinking about something else before I could finish even a single page of a book! I would reach the bottom of the page and realize I had absolutely no recollection of what I had just read. Thankfully, I found yoga. Before embarking on the path of Adamantine® Yoga, I was a devout practitioner of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Similar to Adamantine Yoga, the sequences are traditionally taught individually yet students still convene to practice together in a group format, allowing practitioners to immerse their full attention in their practice without the distractions that are inherent to the modern group-led yoga class. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga outlined its method to bring about focus and present-moment awareness in a concept called Tristana. Tristana used three aspects of the practice to do this: posture, breathing, and gazepoints. Similarly, Adamantine Yoga has these three tools embedded into the practice, with the addition of one more, counting. Using four methods of concentration simultaneously completely saturates… [Continue Reading]