On The Mat: Rediscovery

Uncategorized Apr 10, 2019

“I don’t know how to do this, but something inside of me does.”

--Paul Williams


 

We are master adapters. In many ways, this is a positive trait, and a survival skill that helps us cope with our changing environment or circumstances in our lives. Adaptation is also the emotional intelligence that is needed to stay in relationship through compromise and learning.

Adaptation can also be the process of losing ourselves.

Think of all of the ways we numb and entertain our time away. When we become so-called bored of one thing we seek the same thing in different clothing. The stronger drug. The next season of that Netflix show. Another show. What is new becomes old and so we look for the old and familiar in a new job, relationship, or residence.

This is not even the worst of it. Adaptation can make us forget our values, our instinct, and our inner trust.

That is the worst of it.

In her book “Women Who Run With The Wolves,” Clarissa Pinkola Estés...

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On the Mat: Inertia

Uncategorized Apr 10, 2019

"Honor the space between no longer and not yet."

--Nancy Levin 


 

Inertia is the resistance of an object to a change in velocity or speed. We recognize this change as we transition this week from summer to autumn. Even in South Florida, nature gives us little displays of senescence, which is the process of maturation and transition. This is the energetic preparation of conservation and allowing, so we utilize only what is necessary. Our nervous systems have been programmed to respond and accumulate—in the form of overplanning and overthinking. The cycle of nature offers a different way. This week on the mat, stop. Or give yourself permission to stop. Be in the preparatory phase. Breathe through the reprogramming and the transition. We must allow our energy to accumulate in the parameters of still presence, not external action. This life force coils within us in the most primitive way when we are inert enough to contain it. When this power is ready to be utilized, it...

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Science: Brain Garbage, Breath & Yoga

Uncategorized Mar 12, 2019

BRAIN GARBAGE, BREATH & YOGA

The glymphatic system is the lymphatic system of the brain and it has an exciting relationship to yoga. You may have heard of the lymphatic system, which is the network of vessels that removes wastes and toxins from the other organs of the body. Glymphatic is the word lymphatic combined with the word glia, which are the cells in the brain that had an unknown function until recently.

Glia are non-neuronal cells of the brain and nervous system. They do not transmit signals via an electrical event—called action potential—but function rather like connective tissue in the brain.


Hang in there. I know this seems like a lot, but you can present information like this in a yoga class. In fact, this is the way yoga teaching has to evolve in order maintain credibility. Teacher training is the biggest profit for yoga studios and almost everyone is a certified yoga teacher. If you’ve graduated from a training and feel lost in a sea of...

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Ephemeral

Uncategorized Jan 07, 2019

I love this word.

It’s a word we biologists get quite attached to, an oxymoronic joke in itself. Attached to the concept of ephemeral, which means lasting for a very short time. It was a word that was exchanged often in my conversations with Amy Marlow Anstead, know-it-all of all things marine--organismal and insentient, flora and fauna, and ephemeral.

The word has no opposite. 

Our conversations could have only been more nerdy if we were wearing lab coats bent over spreadsheets and diagrams spread out between us. We would often have to refer to the text books we had in common, such as Invertebrate Zoology by Edward E. Ruppert. This text book was a point of contention between us. Amy loved the book that was used for her Invert Zoology class at the University of South Carolina. During the same time, I sat 139.2 miles away at the rival Clemson University, in my own Invert Zoology class taught by the man, Mr. Edward E. Ruppert himself.

“He was the only good thing...

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On the Mat: Transparency

Uncategorized Sep 09, 2018

“Yoga is all of the stuff you don’t see.”

  --David Williams 


 

When we feel lost, we no longer recognize our surroundings or feel a connection to those around us. This is a process that begins with an internal connection loss via an unwillingness to know what we feel. This ignorance accumulates when we look to others to define or manage what we feel. Most people operate under a bias that overestimates how obvious our thoughts and emotions are to others. We forget that others do not have the same access to our emotions and thoughts as we do. Instead of seeking clarity, it is easier to shut down any further communication and expression. When we do not express what we are feeling we create the chasm between expectation and understanding. In our daily lives, we expect others to meet us where we are emotionally even when we are not aware of where we are emotionally. This is the expectation that snags the thread of all relationships. Our practice on the...

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On the Mat: Mind Your Business

Uncategorized Sep 02, 2018

“A testament to the practice is the person it produces.”

           — Jay Brown


A description of the mythical form of Pantanjali, the compiler of the Yoga Sutras, is nestled in the opening mantra of Ashtanga Yoga-- Sahasra Sirasam Svetam, meaning the thousand white brilliant heads that Patanjali was said to bear atop a serpant’s body. A symbolic translation of this figure is many paths can lead to one destination. A greater meaning is that there are many ways to see the truth. Honoring truth, which we endeavor to do through yoga, means we cannot judge the method and the path of another’s truth. If their way is invalid, then so is yours. This week on the mat, eyes open and eyes on you. The more you focus on invalidating the type of yoga, place and method of practice; the more you invalidate your own. Through drishti, the gaze of focus and personal insight, we are steadfast in our equanimity. Through mudita, delight...

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On The Mat: Permeable

Uncategorized Aug 05, 2018

“To live permeably is to be open-hearted and audacious, to risk showing up as our truest self, and embracing a willingness to be astonished.”

          — Carrie Newcomer


When we are out of practice, we become sticky. Like a spider’s web, we grab and entangle everything that comes our way. Every interaction feels highly personal and charged. When we are in this catch phase of life, we are weighty and lumborous.  Yoga offers freedom from the dense entanglement that counteracts life. The yoga practice is the invitation to be permeable. Through asana, pranayama, and meditation, we are available to simply meet what life offers. Without grasping or holding too tightly, we allow our experience to come and go. This is the position of choice, we can allow the circumstance to stay or pass though. We are the gatekeepers of what affects us and what is discarded. When we see through the lens of awe and not with eyes of defense and offense,...

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On the Mat: Commitment

Uncategorized May 27, 2018

“The person you marry is the person you fight with. The house you buy is the house you repair. The dream job you take is the job you stress over. Everything comes with an inherent sacrifice.”

           — Mark Manson


“If it is not a hard yes, swipe left” is the advice given in a 2017 article (Dang, www.junkee.com) titled “How to Tinder,” to help the common dating app user navigate the current swipe culture. Using this kind of impulse to make life decisions based on the superficial can create a misunderstanding of what is true and real. In our practice, we are asked to discern what is true and real in every breath. We even go as far to question our interpretation of discomfort. This is the commitment to understanding that is yoga. Your practice has already committed to you in the most mature way. It is willing to reflect to you exactly what you bring. Even our impermanent commitments follow this vow of cause...

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On the Mat: Retreat

Uncategorized May 18, 2018

“I want to be my own mountain and my own retreat.”

           — Anna White


Yoga beckons us to be givers and receivers. There is a time for growth and a time for retreat. Both nourish us into balance and wellbeing. In fact, retreat is essential for growth and life. Nature tells us this in various ways—the sun sets, trees and plants fall into senescence, animals hibernate and rest. When we are working towards a goal, we often run as fast as we can towards it in the straightest line possible. When we move too fast towards the goal, we can hit a wall and everything stops. What is really needed during these times is perspective, which is only gained by stepping back. This is a skill. To give space to not-knowing by stepping back is not the same as stepping away. Giving-in by setting down the ego tools of rushing and grasping is the high road. Giving-up is moving on to the next thing with all of the same dysfunctional ego tools in...

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On The Mat: Don't Make Assumptions

Uncategorized May 10, 2018

“Assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make — bombs, for instance, or strawberry shortcake — if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find yourself in terrible trouble. Making assumptions simply means believing things are a certain way with little or no evidence that shows you are correct.”

          — Lemony Snicket


Nothing is as it seems, especially in interactions and relationships. Our most common form of interaction is through technologies such as email and texting, and we are forced to assume the meaning behind words and symbols. In any situation, do you trust that your first thought is the clearest one? Our first thoughts are usually based on past events and conditioning. This will work well as long as we want to continue to recreate the past. In yoga, this is the trap of samskara—the impressions and imprints that are at the root of our suffering. The well-adjusted human...

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