As we soak in the last sweet days of summer, we give thanks to our community—to you—for your dedication, your trust and for your constant support. Thank you for unrolling your mat with us, each day and every day, for breathing, moving, sweating, creating space, experimenting, laughing, crying, sitting and om’ing…and for blessing us with the honor of your presence.
Happy long weekend, yogis…we look forward to seeing you in September…a new schedule and new adventures await!
Monthly Archives: August 2012
Chaturanga Dandasana is one of those poses that you either love or absolutely dread. Here, in this helpful tutorial with the assistance of his cat, Barnaby, David breaks it down.
David Good has made a declaration to be an awesome and inspiring yoga teacher, to the world. He believes that yoga is a way to discover our hidden potential. His passion is to create a community on and off the mat; an inclusive sangha of individuals practicing together, learning together and living together…davidgoodyoga is that community. David’s quest is to share his passion for yoga and give everyone the gift of yoga in their lives. Join the davidgoodyoga renewal revolution, offering free yoga sequences, health and wellness videos from his Holistic Nutritionist Kate and interviews from yogis all over the world that have helped shape his path. David has created the perfect way for beginner’s to experience yoga for the first time—or for more experienced yogis to rewind their practice and work on alignment, building their poses from the ground up, with strength. His teaching style is an educated approach to yoga, rich with alignment cues and awesome, vigorous flows. The practice will leave you feeling like you learned something about your body, while nurturing your soul. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.
Take the time to pray—
it is the sweet oil that eases the hinge into the garden
so the doorway can swing open easily.
You can always go there.
Consider yourself blessed.
These stones that break your bones
will build the altar of your love.
Your home is the garden.
Carry it’s odor, hidden in you, into the city.
Suddenly your enemies will buy seed packets
and fall to their knees to plant flowers
in the dirt by the road.
They’ll call you Friend
and honor your passing among them.
When asked, “Who was that?” they will say,
“Oh, that one has been beloved by us
since before time began.”
This from people who would have trampled over you
to maintain their advantage.
Give everything away except your garden,
Your worry, your fear, your small-mindedness.
Your garden can never be taken from you.
~ Lynn Park
“Sweet are the uses of adversity.”
Recently, I’ve been blessed with an injury (yes, you read that correctly: blessed).
It happened in the grander yoga studio of life, namely Kensington Market, where a teacher named Pothole decided I needed to try a curious pose called ankle-twistasana.
Now, twists are renowned for their multifarious benefits as organ detoxers, spine mobility inspirers and circulation motivators—but this was a twist of a much more subtle, energetic kind.
True, when Pothole helped thrust me into the pose, the physical results were far from subtle (excruciating pain, stumbling to ground, moaning, etc.) but it was what this twist set into motion that really defined ankle-twistasana. As I stumbled onto that hot pavement, eyeing Pothole angrily, like most great teachers, Pothole didn’t play into my mind-games; it just stared back at me, witnessing my incipient transformation, with a blank, stony gaze.
I writhed in pain for some two minutes, hoping it was like former ankle-twistasanas and the pain would subside quickly and assuredly. Indeed, the pain did eventually dissipate and I managed to bike home—only to find my ankle twice, if not three times, its normal size. This was clearly going to be a tad more complicated than I first envisioned.
The next morning, I awoke with great expectations to be able to power through a self-practice class with my usual passion only to find myself haplessly trying to evade stings and stabs of pain with every pose. As I sat around my homespace that day, bereft of my usual ebullient swagger, I shared coffee with some old friends I hadn’t seen in a while: Frustration, Self-Pity & Right-Pissed. They were, of course, quite happy to see me and I indulged them in lively conversation.
I reviled at the thought of having to rest again, having only recently overcome a previous injury—and at such a soaring height of asana alacrity in my personal practice. Swaddled in poor me’s, viscous like a victim, I gave my life a long, distrustful look of distaste and resigned myself to, well, resignation.
Salvation came (as if often does) on the wings of friendship; a merry mate, after listening to my complaint department blathering on relentlessly, interjected quite assertively that the universe wanted me to rest and to take a look at something I’ve obviously been missing in life that was of the utmost important.
Ultimately, life had served me a lemon and I was resisting using it. Inspired, I cut the lemon into four nice quarters, squeezed them into hot water and decided to drink. I was an aspiring tantric yogi, after all, which carries a fundamental allegiance to the flux and flows of life. Resistance is anathema—and thank goddess for frank friends.
For anyone practicing yoga, we know that resistance sucks. You know that moment in class when you’re pushing-pushing-pushing but you can’t just seem to find that steady-eddy sensibility—that transcendent hush where each breath is counted and strength is a sighing stream of victory?
That’s when you just have to let go as if to say, Body, I know you’re plugged into the universe in ways I can’t totally comprehend right now so tell me, how should I practice?
As we surrender, pushing against the walls within, we suddenly find a whole space open up, allowing breath to expand, limbs to unfold and peace to take a grander shape…the body is wisdom.
So, I went to the park to meditate and open myself up to the greater currents of destiny that seemed intent that I hovel in respite.
And indeed, during that meditation there was a tremendous sense of relief as I went about performing a kind of psychic asana, aligning my mind with the terrain of circumstance before me, opening to embrace the change that my twisted ankle presented and breathing in the possibilities that might just be from doing life a little different for the next little while.
It turns out destiny did need me to rest for a week.
I was lucky enough to be able to also clear my schedule of professional commitments and settle into respite. And as the week began to flow, I found myself relaxing into study of numerous texts I’d been already enjoying but now with much more time on my hands to dig in deeper. The time allowed me to go at a slower pace so that integrations of knowledge were given credence to connect. I made sure I continued practicing yoga in all the ways beyond asana, taking daily to meditation, pranayama, chanting and just all around focusing on being present in the great yoking of mind-body—with constant enthusiastic embodiment.
I began to revel in this pace, taking time to work on new music, to ruminate on some deep patterns in my life I intended to shift, to be grateful for things and to also take a mighty step back to vision the currents of destiny and take a creative role in choosing where I wished them to flow. I made time for timelessness and allowed my days to unfurl organically, not with any crunching schedule or tension timing.
This was tremendously revealing and confirmed why, as one spiritual teacher advised me, time is the anti-christ (dramatic, yes—but try a day without any planning, lending oneself to the magical pull of coincidence, synchronicity and destiny and you might come to a similar conclusion).
My ankle recovered nicely and one day, a friend asked how I was doing—I returned with a beaming smile, saying, “Gosh-darn, this has actually been the best week of my summer. It’s been truly a week of tremendous revelation, cultivation and inspiration.” I then looked down at my ankle, endearingly, smacked a kiss on my hand which I quickly smacked on the ankle, ‘I love this ankle!’
Yep, Will had it right; there is a sweetness to all adversity, when we decide to embrace it as an expression of a greater force of life that may know better than we what is best for us.
This lends itself to some curious spiritual inquiries—is life somehow guiding us? Does destiny exist? Does this mean there is a God, I mean really, who trained Pothole to be such a great teacher? I have my own answers, which may awe-inspire some and, thus, have a certain value. But, the most valuable teaching is direct experience. (Ah, the book of life!)
In that vein, I encourage everyone, the next time something comes from seemingly out of nowhere to disrupt our ‘normal’ rhythm of life, to take a moment to consider embracing it—instead of the more commonplace posture of resisting or even avoiding it.
Even if it’s something brutal. Actually, especially so.
Each time I embrace whatever comes my way, life takes on a certain magic—the same feeling I get when I’m improvising a musical piece and I’m utterly lost in a field of effulgent beauty that is marvellously going somewhere that is always amazing. The ancient Taoists of Chinese mystical lore were quite clear that there is a guiding realm to life that speaks through the heart constantly.
When we follow what they call the way of nature, we are always in this flow of spontaneous wisdom.
It’s a wild way to live because, as we often find, the urgings of the heart can make us do things that are seemingly absurd (like taking a week off of yoga and work). But, if we can surrender just an ounce of faith, we might find the universe in there, rapping at the door of our soul with a magical adventure of destiny to bestow on us, if we’d but yield our incessant need for control, authority and the illusion of security (another blog post indeed!).
Life is good. How do I know?
It showed me so…
Written by Darren Austin Hall
Darren Austin Hall is a modern day Druid, meaning he somehow integrates being a healer, poet-sacred musician and mystic teacher, all in one. Formally, he has training in Chinese Medicine and some eccentric shamanic arts and informally, life has initiated him in a plethora of other wisdom ways, thanks to a cacophony of extraordinary teachers, friends and experiences. He is especially passionate about indigenous culture and the Earth as a living being that loves us all dearly. Darren is most renowned for his work as sound healer and sacred musician. He performs his unique quartz crystal singing bowls and intuitive chanting for yoga classes and in immensely powerful concerts, that also combine other exotic instrumentation and spiritual textures. He is currently studying to be a yogi at Octopus Garden and is clearly a Gemini. Check out his website: http://www.InnerTraditionsHealing.com.
Last night I had a dream
wherein my subconscious beckoned me to make a choice,
to buckle down on a concrete dharmic path,
with warriors, poets, activists and gods dancing
‘round my head.
Oh Gaia, Sophia,
Oh Jesus, Buddha, Hare Hare Krishna!
Is my destiny with Kundalini,
Dancing Shiva, Waking Shakti?
Shall I be Hindi?
A tantrika yogi in for a life of ecstatic bliss?
Dare I be a Taoist?
I am beneath a boulder called philosophy
and what once seemed so sweet to me
is now the shadow that follows me…
Weighing heavy on my chest
and I am doing my best
to tease out this eternal question of
“Who am I?”
“What should I believe?”
It’s somehow difficult to conceive
that with the vastness of spiritual revolution
there is only one.
One single path tailored for the entire population.
And right before I burst into a thousand yogic pieces
of intertwined flaming gunas,
I am awoken by the sound of:
“Rise and Shine sweet thing
The Sun’s out to lunch and you are the maker of your own warmth.
You are your own light at the end of the tunnel,
Simply transparent and transparently
Rearrange your idealistic mind
On this term defined
As ‘perfection’ as a spiritual notion.”
I am then challenged to put forth what, in my heart, I truly know.
I know that truth, itself, is change,
that nothing remains the same.
That the million-molecular-makeup of my entire body
moves and ebbs and flows
to the sound of music in the airwaves.
That everything shifts and dies away,
and that this body will too, one day.
I know the truth and power of love
and the softening in strangers faces
When met with compassionate withstanding.
Reaching out to make clear that
No, we are NOT separate,
we are similar souls inhabiting different bodies.
And that just because your journey looks a little different than mine
does not mean I will forget or leave you behind.
Regardless of the name of our path,
if what we deeply believe in continues to transform us into kinder,
more playful, AWEsome human beings
then we have found our perfect practice.
Because, let’s face it:
All the brilliantly bound books and texts in the world
will not make us good people
if our paths are not rooted in our hearts.
And these philosophies started with one
coining these terms of life.
So why can’t we begin our own philosophy
through the whispers of our own hearts?
We are set a part
and were born whole into this world,
connected to the rhythm of the earth
and the pounding in our souls
that no book
or sutra could shed a light on.
And what if we reached into the sky for answers
only to find our own hands reaching back in
As if to say:
“Darling, open your heart and close your eyes, and you will find a big surprise.
Realize that no,
You don’t need to manhandle yourself into full Padmasana to achieve enlightenment.
not one other individual can give you the blue prints to your own spiritual action.
you don’t need to spend the rest of your life in solitude
on top of a mountain
Because although the view would be magnificent,
there is something significant
about the inner workings of your own buddha nature.
That beneath societal conditioning and fragmented philosophy
there is innate, divine wisdom inside you and me.”
If we remember kindness and simplicity
and find practices that make us sparkly
we become more powerful than superheroes.
More loving than can ever be measured.
And here it is where we delight
in our birthright
to be our own Guru
and our own beacon of light.
*An inspired response to chapter eleven in Jack Kornfield’s book, A Path With Heart.
Written by Megan Marie Gates
Megan Marie is currently blissed out on the following things: hoola-hooping, impromptu dance parties, spoken word poetry, biking, delicious espresso/food/people, intuitive singing, shaking her asana, writing love letters, art in all its brilliant diversity, wandering the globe, picture-taking, tantric texts and making her yoga practice as curious and playful as humanly possible. She is a graduate of Octopus Garden’s 200hr YTT and is currently finishing the 300hr program with Scott, Pat and company.