Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yoga and your lifestyle

As yoga instructors our first duty is to impress upon you that yoga is so good for you that you'll want more and more and more. It's true and we shamelessly admit it. Yoga teachers seek little in the way of fame or huge incomes. In most cases we have a wonderful story of transformation that was made possible through the ancient practice of this art thus we are driven to share the gift that has been given to us.

The common question is "will this interfere with my religious practices?" The answer is NO. In fact many studios don't have a Sunday class because many people are in church. Yoga and meditation brings you closer to yourself. The harbingers of many world religions were known to practice some form of meditation, or chanting, or movement. The main point is realizing that magic place inside you where your spirit resides. We focus on helping you find your center… that can be a spiritual practice unto itself or bring you closer to the one you already have.

*Hatha or Asanas (physical exercise) yoga is but a larger expression of what are known as the "Eight limbs of Yoga" as expressed by a person known as Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. The term Yoga means Union: Union of Body, Mind and Soul. Yoga is not a religion but is rather like an onion. Practice of Hatha expresses physically if not mentally physical and mental clarity and a recharge of the spirit. Hatha prepares us for the stillness of meditation, the centeredness and clarity of mind, hence: union. The more you peel the onion if you care to, the deeper into the spiritual aspects of yoga you can discover. But you can stay at whatever layer you wish and reap incredible benefits!

This yogi is a great proponent of finding the magic wherever you can. I personally attend 6 studios as a client and sometimes as a teacher and drop in just about anywhere if I have a chance. It deepens my expression and understanding of Hatha, plus it spreads the Yoga Community Energy around. Yoga should be shared and not proprietized that yoga should be shared as a culture. The studio owners I appreciate the most foster and promote this attitude with the staff and its students. Intent Yoga center, the studio where I most often teach has a motto: "Carry Om" this is important in that once you roll up your mat that you smile and carry the peace and joy you've created for yourself with your practice out into the world. We hope that you infect others with your joy!


*Although Hatha is labeled as a style in many circles, it is an ancient term and is commonly believed to be the term related to the physical expression of the yoga poses.





Friday, October 30, 2009

Check your ego at the door...

I had planned to go to Hot Yoga this morning, felt "punky" but exercised a little self discipline and went to Issaquah Hot Yoga. The instructor is a cool cat named Regan, his classes are tough but very fun. I'm also fully aware that even as a teacher I can't do some of the stuff he offers in that class. The problem was that I began to not feel well, and couldn't maintain my normal pace and even do some poses that usually are no problem. I became frustrated.

I began to go into restorative poses when I had to at times when no one else in the class was slacking. It occured to me that I was exercising some of my own advice and even Regan's advice... Take care of yourself and YOUR practice. That revelation allowed me to smile as I moved slower through the rest of the class.

I use the yoga mat as a metephor for my life, and lessons learned in the yoga studio about myself translate well into life. First: Check your ego at the door, you're not there to impress, or compete, you are there to merge your body, mind, soul. Sure a good workout is nice, but better if you enjoyed it. No use paying ten bucks for misery, a movie and a bucket of popcorn can accomplish that. Try checking your ego at the door at work, coming home from a shopping trip, a bike ride with friends, open mike poetry night... whatever. Just accept that you are living first of all for you, your joy will benefit others.

So as I left the studio this morning I told Regan the instructor, "You made my blog." Of course he looked a little puzzled but I wanted to thank him for the lesson. So thank you Regan!

Brian M. Dotson

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Personal Mantra

Defined in many ways, traditionally the term "mantra" is a word, phrase, sound, or invocation that acts as an audible reminder of something sacred or important.

My personal definition is similar, but simpler and more "western". To me a a mantra is a phrase or word to act as a reminder of what's important to me in certain situations. I will share with you a few of mine hopefully it will inspire you to consider your own. I find I pick up little mantras from people I admire, things I read, and things my parents and grandparents used to say to me. Many times they are spiritual, sometimes they are a little fesicious, but always meaningful.

Almost daily I utter my understanding of the first line of the prayer of St. Francis, "God, allow me to be an instrument of thy peace and mercy." This reminds me of my dedication to be a person of service, to remember that anytime I can help someone for the sake of just doing God's will I will strive to do so with no personal motive. That's not completely true thought, I recieve great Joy when I do so!

Sometimes I quote, "Anything worth doing, is worth asking for". It used to reflect a more cavalier attitude which I still sometimes weakly display. However, the higher thinking here is a reminder that if I have a need, especially one of necessity for happiness or survival I need to not be afraid to ask for it. This could be asking a friend for help, my mother for a new blanket, or my Higher Power for favor. I always ask in the spirit of Karma in that I should expect to pay some small price, with grattitude for that which I recieve.

With respect to the first two. I try to remind myself to stay humble in service an recieving of the gifts of others. "To give freely that which has always been so freely been given to me." Knowing that especially in the latter years of my life many, many people have been there to assist me in navigating life. These are the people of my church, work, sober fellowship and elsewhere who have been to kind and loving even when setting aside the agenda of their own lives to help me. Karma law demands that to stay in balance and retain the joy they have given me... to always return the favor even to others in their spirit.

"The way you do anything... is the way you do everything." Which is a mantra I use at the end of every Yoga Class I teach. I take this from a martial arts and yoga teacher I admire named Cameron Shayne. To me it ties my practice of Asana, or physical yoga to life. If we practice yoga with great intent, energy, joy, and dedication we will recieve great physical and probably spirituall benefits. The same holds true if you put your whole self into your cooking, lawn mowing, family raising, driving, etc. It is a reminder to live MINDFULLY and remember to not get lazy. This ads to the act of living life, rather than just existing.

Finally, a slightly silly one, but I use it almost every day. The comedian Red Green signs off every show with "Keep your stick on the ice". This is a metaphore related to hockey, where the rules discourage lifting your hockey stick far off the ice because it may cause injury or disallow a goal, or put the rule breaker into the penalty box. Basically its a reminder to "stay out of trouble, or simply behave yourself. So to me it's a parting that is a polite send off with a spin of humor in order to make someone smile. After all creating joy is what all this is about.

Walk in the Light!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

The BisyBackson

The following is  a commentary on a portion of Benjamin Hoff's "The Tao of Pooh". Contained therin is my camparison to yoga and meditation...

In a popular "Taoist" parody involving Pooh and the friends of the 100 acre wood, there is a chapter dedicated to those too busy to have time for time's sake.   Go to their homes and you'll see a sign on their door stating "Busy, Back Soon" this is a home inhabited by a creature we'll call the BisyBackson. The BiseyBackson is not an animal, it is a person too busy to have time to answer the door, better still are too busy to come home to do so. Do you know a busy BisyBackson? Are you one?

Ok, you're thinking, "Great, my Yogi friend is the busiest person I know and about to distribute a dissertation on how to not be." Well yeah and no. Yes yogis can be busy, busy with practice, busy gardening, busy with normal jobs, children, and such. We work hard and work often. So what's the difference? Well the answer lies IN the story. But there is an answer and maybe it'll work for you...

I have a friend who deals with "the market". He has a hard time slowing down, hard time meditating albeit he's ahead of most in his industry... he has discovered Yoga. Another friend works his regular Fire Dept job and has side businesses that cause him to travel the world on days off... no yoga. I know a millionaire tech guy who lives a total Yogic life and in spite of working insane hours still finds at least 1 hour a day to meditate steadfastly to nourish his spirit.

One has no time in his life for himself or anyone, one has his foot just inside the door of self discovery, and the other firmly with a grip on his inner self and able to outperform most I know. This is the paradox of yoga and meditation; the busier a person is, the more that person needs to meditate. Compare it to putting tread back on your tires. It's not metaphysical, its science. Machines for example that are put under great stresses a little at a time can last for miles, the Indy 500 can trash the highest performance engines in the world because they have no rest. Here's another experiment, bend a nail, or piece of plastic back and forth rapidly and just before it breaks feel the heat generated at the bend. Your mind, if freed of all thought and stress even for moments of the day will be more resilient, resulting in less stress improved memory, improved health. AND best of all it affects the muscles that operate the corners of your mouth and seem to relax an lift your spirits resulting in that smile of joy.

So you get-er-done junkies. Try this... take your Business Plan, and trash it, burn it, shred it. Develop instead a Busy-ness Plan. Get up early, sit still and enjoy the calm vibration of the awakening world. Go out with joy, take over the world, come home. Then take some quiet time to let the day go and enter peace... before the dinner an homework rush. You'll find you can make more time for and more sense of IT ALL. You'll find more often you can take that Busy, Back Soon sign off your door, and of your chest and stow it away for ever. Replace it with an Enter Joyfully, take off your shoes, and Meditate for a while--- sign.

Walk in the Light!!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

If you had your life to live over...

I read this not long ago... I love it!

If I had my life to live over I'd like to make more mistakes next time. I'd relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual trouble, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones. You see, I'm one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I'd have more of them. In fact, I'd try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I've been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have. If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds, I would pick more daisies.
Nadine Stair

Live In The Moment!!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Perception and works...

The current economic crisis finally caught up with me in a very real sense. The truth is I am in a very real and uncomfortable financial position. I've chosen not to worry, rather I've learned not to worry. After all (they say) the universe will provide... with a little faith. Many of the worlds faiths teach us that everything around us is only perception. It's where we can practice the skill of non-attachment.

As a Yogi, I still turn to words of wisdom from Sages of the past. From a short Taoist Cannon called Immortal old Gentleman Lu's 100 Character Steele it is stated, "When in obscure poverty, I resort to my own devices". A very powerful mantra I've reflected on time and again.

My money is what I make of it. My enough is what I make of it. If I were to lose my home, car, pet, prize possession, job, or even my health I should just accept these things. I find that in daily life that if I participate actively in exercising non attachment to small and even mundane things, meditate frequently and commune a little with my higher power then when the big things manifest themselves I worry less and less.

This is why we call Practicing Spirituality, Practicing Goodness, Practicing Good Habits... Practicing non attachment just that Practice; we become better at them.

Practicing Karma or Bhatki Yoga is to be of service. Serving others with no other reward than to be joyful and help others to be gets us out of our Selves. Selflessness rather than Selfishness becomes our mantra and we find that our energy becomes positive. It's kind of like an insurance policy: we invest good will and grace, we practice non attachment, we attract like energy. By not worrying about being poor, by continuing to give when we don't have and importantly not expecting any specific thing in turn... more often than not life works out.

The bible states, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:26)". We can hope and pray all we want, we can mow lawns and walk little old ladys across the street all we want but whatever your faith even if it's non-"religious" still works the same...

Accept hand ups, not hand outs.
Try giving more than you receive.
Trust that the Universe will provide for you.
Trust that You are a working part of the Universe.

Have joy!

You'll see the world as the wealthiest of humans can ever dream!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wealth and Community

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November 30, 2008

Wealth and Community...
In this time of political tension with the changing of the guard in the American Presidency I feel a great desire to set it aside and consider what really matters; Wealth. Financial experts would claim that the true definition of wealth is " having sufficiant assets that would sustain you indefinately at your current lifestyle". Nice, but...Let's bring it a little closer to our humble real lives. Wealth may alternatively be defined as, " The means to survive on ones own sufficiant to maintain safety, welfare and Joy indefinately ". I would be remiss to ignore financial security. But what if everything around our community collapsed and all we had was each other? History repeats itself, and even the most prostperous nations go through dark times and people suffer. Take the great land of Russia, once (albiet communist) a great 1st world nation, now a country full of poverty and saddness. The Great Depression in the US in the 20's, etc...What if we started taking an attitude of Old America. The time when we had gardens, and those who didn't shared with neighbors who in turn would mend their fence. A time when the town doctor made a living through barter; heck a childbirth may fetch two chickens, a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs! The days when we met and got to know people and found security of like minded people. The days when late life care of the elderly was always assisted by friends and neighbors.Today life is not agriculture based, and truly not all of us can find what we need locally. But imagine saving some gas money so that you could pay a little more to a LOCAL vendor, and by getting to know that person may inspire them to use your business or services. It was my discovery of a person with those beleifs that brought me to participate in the Plateu community, and as a result I found part time work in this here, consequently I spend money around town. I live in a nearby area where I pass on the same habits to shop the local hardware store, rather than the big box, I give away eggs and produce to neighbors. I do this all to gain the wealth of self sustainability, and community sustainatbility.This could be a turn for the future to return to those old ways, tried and true. Just like any insurance policy, we may never have to use it for it's ultimate purpose in a catastrophe', but the peace of mind, and the goodness of it all will pay dividends and make us all "rich beyond our dreams."

Brian M. Dotson