Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Are your feet happy?

You Walk Wrong -
It took 4 million years of evolution to perfect the human foot. But we’re wrecking it with every step we take. -- by Adam Sternbergh

I came across this article from the New Yorker serendipitously and I love it! The premise of the article is that shoes are really bad for your feet. As the author admits, most people are not going to give up shoes but suggests we go barefoot whenever we can. As a long time yoga practitioner, I know my feet have grown much more responsive with all the work that feet are asked to do, especially in the standing poses. I've definitely maintained my ability to balance which is so important as we age. So take your shoes off, wriggle those toes, and read!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Peace of Mind

In class I've been mentioning talks from the Mind & Life Institute XVI meeting at the Mayo Clinic - Rochester. On April 16th the full day of talks was available live as a webcast.

The Mind Life Institute has made some of those talks available on their website until May 16th. The Dalai Lama was one of the participants.

One thing I've been mentioning in class was that His Holiness said that while he had much worry and anxiety these days, he had a deep inner calm that allowed him to sleep. In trying to find a link to these talks, I came across several newspaper articles on the meeting. In the articles I read, this statement was mentioned. But they left out the part where he said that his ability to rest in the face of many worries came from this abiding inner peace. In doing so, I think the authors of the articles missed the point of his statement.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Pico Iyer is one of my favorite writers. He has a new book out on the Dalai Lama whom he has known for 30 years. It was a fascinating read, covering the public, private, political and monastic sides of a this man who is revered by some of his followers as a god but who refers to himself as a simple monk. This excerpt is at the very end of the book...

'He (the Dalai Lama) told me that sometimes he felt that he could never do enough, and that nothing he did could ever really affect things....He told me that it was "up to us poor humans to make the effort," one step at a time, and again, as if invoking the final words of the Buddha, he spoke of "constant effort, tireless effort, purusing clear goals with sincere effort.".

Then as we were walking out of the room, he went back and turned off the light. It's such a small thing, he said, it hardly makes a difference at all. And yet nothing is lost in the doing of it, and maybe a little good can come of it, if more and more people remember this small gesture in more and more rooms.

Six thousand days or so after that morning, when he came back to Japan, I though about that simple gesture of turning off the light. Every one of those six thousand days, it seemed to me, I had had some revelation, encountered some wisdom, scribbled down sentences I'd read or come up with myself about the meaning of the universe, the way to lead a better life, the essence of the soul, the unreality of the soul. I had had more lightning flashes and moments of illumination than I could count in the next six thousand years. And yet now, on this bright autumn morning, I could remember not a one of them, except the simple, practical task of turning off the light. Not enlightenment, not universal charity, not the Golden Rule or the wisdom of the ages: just something I could do several times a day.

I went home after hearing the Dalai Lama on the sunlit island, and then went out for a walk. I closed the door behind me and was about to turn the key in the lock when I remembered the long-ago day. I opened the door again, and turned off the light.'

Monday, April 7, 2008


"Yoga is so easily practiced and is a natural healing activity that is available to anyone who has breath. It is for everyOne everyWhere including individuals who do not have normal physical movement.
My friend Ram Das was showing me with great joy how he had adapted his Yoga to his needs. One side of his body is paralyzed. He holds one arm with his good arm and moves the whole body as breath. It makes him feel well and joyful. It brings health into his system. He wanted to know why he had not been taught this earlier in his Life when it is clearly devotion. It is Bhakti yoga to which his Life has been devoted. It is the direct intimacy with our Nurturing Source. In a poignant moment he tearfully apologized for Hatha Yoga being so poorly represented in the West. He said he never had a chance to do it because all his Hatha yoga teachers were show offs. They would teach him extreme exaggerated, heroic things to do in the dualistic psychology of trying to get somewhere idealistic, imaginary enlightenment. Not the direct intimacy where each person participates in the wonder of Life already Given, in us as us. So he was crying.. so sweet. "I have it now" he said. I love this man. "

From an email newsletter from yoga teacher Mark Whitwell


"Waking up this morning, I smile.  Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.  I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Morning Sun by Edward Hopper (1952)
© Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio

 A Morning Offering

I bless the night that nourished my heart

To set the ghosts of longing free

Into the flow and figure of dream

That went to harvest from the dark

Bread for the hunger no one sees.


All that is eternal in me

Welcomes the wonder of this day,

The field of brightness it creates

Offering time for each thing

To arise and illuminate.


I place on the altar of dawn: 

The quiet loyalty of breath,

The tent of thought where I shelter,

Waves of desire I am shore to

And all beauty drawn to the eye.


May my mind come alive today

To the invisible geography

That invites me to new frontiers,

To break the dead shell of yesterdays,

To risk being disturbed and changed.


May I have the courage today

To live the life that I would love,

To postpone my dream no longer

But do at least what I came here for

And waste my heart on fear no more.

-- John O'Donohue from To Bless the Space Between Us

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Emile Zola said...

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud."

Freeform Yoga

Once a month, Erich Schiffmann hosts Freeform Yoga at a studio in Los Angeles. Here's a video, shot by one of his long time students, that includes his description of freeform yoga and some footage of what takes place.

Listen to the description. He's really telling you how to develop your own practice.