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Living Yoga

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Ask

Ask

Yesterday I got one of my royal two hours massages and as always it was amazing! I know, I am very very spoiled. 

As I laid on the massage table an interesting experience unfolded. It started when I recognized I was cold. 

My first thought was my body temperature will rise but it didn't. 

What's odd is I am very comfortable with my massage therapist, I don't think of myself as someone who doesn't speak up for my needs, and I knew the table had an electric pad on it which would be easy to turn on. 

I was paralyzed, unable to ask for what it was I truly needed in that moment. 

I was observing, aware, fully conscious, and at the same time stuck. I wonder where else in my life this happens?

Luckily even though I didn't speak up, quantum physics was on my side (aka lila). 

About 40 minutes in, my masseur said he forgot to ask me if I wanted the heating pad turned on and would I want him to turn it on now.

I was very happy to hear the words YES come out of my mouth.

Where do you get stuck asking for what it is you need in your life?

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Eco Essentials

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One of the greatest gifts yoga has given me is awareness and perspective. While I don't deserve an A+ all the time when its time to buy something new I tend to look for an eco-friendly option first. 

The reasons are simple. I love supporting companies doing the right thing with a financial contribution and at the reality is eco-products can be stylish, price comparable, and always consider the impact of the product in every stage of its life cycle.

Its a win/win for my style, my health, and for the planet's health. 

Here are a few of my favorite recent buys:

  • Zeal Sunglasses: the frames and lenses are all made out of "castor bean, an efficient, fast-growing perennial that is easy to grow, withstands drought, and thrives on marginal lands. Z-Resin doesn't compete with food crops and also significantly reduces the amount of CO2 released during manufacturing."
  • Reusable Paper Towel Sponge: growing up in Israel we never had paper towels and always used these reusable European sponges. Each one is equivalent to 15 paper towel rolls, it dries quickly so bacteria will form on it, and it will biodegrade within 5 weeks of being disposed. Check out Twist or Skoy
  • Running Shoes: while show companies are trying to reduce their waste about a year ago I purchased an eco friendly shoe from Brookes Running. The midsole is totally compostable and the shoe is low toxicity. This year I noticed the shoe was discontinued so I thought they were taking a step backward. Luckily I got in touch with Customer Service and this is the good news they shared with me: "We used to make an environmentally friendly shoe that was called the Green Silence. Essentially it was a concept shoe using technology that we were seeing if we could use this in all of shoes. We used recycled bottles for laces, water based adhesives and a single piece upper that lessened the amount of material waste when cutting the uppers. All of these environmental advances plus the use of BioMogo midsoles which will biodegrade in an active landfill in 20 years are used in all of our shoes now." Very good NEWS! Check them out @ http://www.brooksrunning.com/

  • Check out the great guide better-world-shopper to find more amazing companies working to support our planet. 

 If you have more products you love let me know and I will add them. To Win/Wins! 

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Little Ember

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I am spending time with my sister, brother-in-law, and little nephew in the sweet mountain town of Julian CA, about an hour or so from San Diego. 

We are in a beautiful wood cabin with tall trees and expansive valley views. 

To my delight the cabin has a wood stove which takes me back to wonderful memories of wood cabins on the East Coast. 

On Friday, the night we arrived I lit a fire to keep us warm. 

On Saturday evening about 18  hours after the first fire it was time to start up the stove once again. 

As I opened the small glass door I felt warmth inside, and as I looked more closely I noticed glowing embers. 

I paused in a moment of fascination at how intelligent, economical, and resourceful nature really is. 

The reality is that starting a fire (before the modern age) was not the easiest of tasks. So instead of having to start from scratch nature decided to give us a break. 

Embers create miniature scale combustion to stay hot with their primary chemical energy stored deep inside their center. Without a strong influx of oxygen the yellow, orange, and red glow loose their thermal energy very slowly and don't ignite into a flame. 

How amazing! If we can keep embers cozy we have a guarantee and an easy way to start a fire a whole half day later.

I know iPhone's are neat but talk about brilliant technology!

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Lessons from a Pot

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When its cold out I love to make soup.

Mushroom-potato, sweet potato-parsnip-carrot, or my favorite sweet onion.

In general, after I cook I clean my pots and pans but there have been times where I was too tired and I make the choice to clean the following day.

When this has occurred I have noticed two possible scenarios:

  • In the first, I leave my pot unclean but I fill it part way with water to sit overnight.
  • In the second, I leave my pot unclean without any water.

Inevitably, over and over again when I choose scenario two I find myself the next morning scrubbing with much more effort and thinking to myself why didn’t I presoak.

Beyond the kitchen I wonder where else in my life could I take one more little effortless step in a process, that would  yield an enormous amount of return.

A simple pre-soak and cleaning becomes seamless.

So much wisdom from one medium sized stainless steel pot.

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Small Connection

Large Group of Happy People standing together.

I love moments in my life when I see the teachings of yoga fully coming to life. 
 
Yesterday I returned my rental car to a Hertz office near the Commons in Boston. 
 
As I walked in, the sweet lady behind the counter asked me how I was doing. I answered honestly as I was genuinely feeling happy after wrapping up my month here on the East Coast. 
 
I then asked her how she was doing and she let me know about her splitting headache. 
 
Luckily I had a 16oz can of coconut water  so I gave it to her and told her about the electrolytes and hydrating qualities that would hopefully subdue her ache. 
 
As I was saying my goodbyes to head to the T (Boston's Subway) I asked directions to the Orange line. As another kind woman was telling me where to go, one of the other workers overheard us and asked what part of town I was trying to get to. 
 
I told him Jamaica Plain and without hesitation he offered me a ride as JP is his home. My medium size suitcase and I where ecstatic to be in a car.
 
As we drove in rush hour traffic we chatted about his work, two daughters, close family connections, and his reliable Honda Accord.
 
After sometime he dropped me off at my friend's doorstep and I gave him a bag of maple sweetened Kripalu oatmeal, raisin cookies.
 
I felt so nourished, connected, and in such a flow. I probably will never see these two people ever again but I am grateful for my experience and for the reality that through living yoga I am less armored and more open to the sweet connections life offers, even in these small unexpected ways. 
 

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Journal Power

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When I teach workshops I am always surprised by the low number of hands raised when I ask how many people journal on a regular basis. 
 
Although my practice of writing down my thoughts takes vacation every once in a while, I always find myself  returning to this potent tool.
 
Without needing to know the science, the bottom line is I feel better after I journal, but luckily just in case you are not sold, research has been done to prove my point.
 
Scientists believe that when we jot down our stressful thoughts about the day or a specific aliment, it actually strengthens our immune cells by reliving the build up of distress.
 
Journaling has also been shown to help solve conflicts with others, know our inner workings better, cope with anxiety and depression and solve problems with greater ease.  
 
While its important to have time for catharsis, journalling can also be a wonderful platform to both acknowledge what we are grateful for, to affirm our own self worth and direct energy towards a specific goal.
 
I am grateful for..., I am enough, I am beautiful, I am creative, I am resourceful, I am connected, I am valued, I am loved are just a few of the phrases I regularly write down.
 
In addition to our own wellbeing a journal is a great place to offer blessing and support to family, friends, the planet, and people or animals struggling around the world. 
 
While words are very potent many people journal through simple stick figures or more elaborate drawing. The sky is the limit. 
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With any new habit start small. Make a commitment to journal 2x a week for a whole month. Slowly build to 3-4 times a week. 
 
The morning right after you wake or in the evening before you go to sleep are often potent times to put pen to paper. 
 
Dive in and notice the power available through the simple act of journalling. 

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Philosophy

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I am not sure why I have always been fascinated with the realm of my mind. Perhaps it is because it houses seeds of creativity that open the doors to possibility, for what might unfold, or because it allows me a place to contemplate, reflect, and ponder how I am showing up in the world.

In this way of loving to churn concepts, thoughts, and ideas I am drawn to philosophy as a platform for taking ideas further and questioning how life functions.

Yet it wasn’t until I started to take on and practice the Philosophies of Yoga that I truly began to understand the meaning of this seemingly obvious word.

Philosophy after all is the love of wisdom, loving (philos) and wisdom (sophia).

But what is this love of wisdom all about and why are so many people seeking more of it in our modern age of great advancement?

It seems that in past times humans used to gather around the fire, tell myths, contemplate the ground below and the stars above. We gathered in council for deeper contemplation, to converse and to tap into the current of wisdom always present in the background.

Today with busy lifestyles, consumerism, and popular TV shows that serve as an odd thread of seeming connection, many walk around unfulfilled never pondering much of anything.

Eventually some feel a hunger, and are driven by a desire to wake up, to ask questions, to look less and see more, to remember internal wisdom and welcome the intelligence of nature back into their lives.

While all philosophies have much to offer as a road map of contemplation, what I cherish most about the yoga tradition is its invitation to step into real life experimentation.

It is not a philosophy simply composed of discussion, but a love of wisdom that is cultivated by taking teachings and mapping them back against the landscape of our own lives.

A philosophy in action that provides signs on the path but doesn’t offer concrete answers to all of our queries.

From compassion, truth, contentment, community, energy management, and dedication to receptivity, skillfulness in action, alignment, connection, intelligence, abundance, and pulsation the themes yoga’s love of wisdom can serve as a direct conduit to rediscovering the forgotten facets of who we are and how we can choose to show up in the world day in and day out. 

 
A love of wisdom accessible at any moment from a place of knowing. A gift. Our birthright.  

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Body Electric

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WARNING! If you are offended easily by the conversation of sex, touch, and the physical body DO NOT READ FURTHER.
 
In a recent intimate connection I was reminded of a very sweet part of the magic and pleasure of various parts of my body.
 
Our sex obsessed culture seems to be so focused on genital stimulation, but I presume the majority of men and women, straight or gay would attest that foreplay, touch, and sensuality are just as potent as the main event.
 
In my explorations it was my ear that was a surprisingly sweet spot. The back, front, and inner parts served as an unexpected conduit for pleasure.
 
In the path of Tantra Yoga (which is not solely focused on sexual experience) we are invited to taste and step into the whole spectrum of the human experience.
 
It only makes sense that we employ this same principle in the conversation that occurs between two lovers in an exchange of touch, sensation, and pleasure.
 
So what are other reported non-genital 'hot spots' that might elicit a moan or two?
 
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For MEN:
  • The outer edge of the ear which has a large bundle of nerves.
  • Outside of the lower lip also contains sensitive nerves.
  • The nipples can be a seductive spot, but not for all men, ask first, then explore a few licks, kisses, or tiny bites.
  • The perineum is often considered the male 'g-spot'. Gay men are very familiar with this spot and straight men deserve just as much pleasure. Play with putting a little bit of pressure in this magical spot and watch him erupt.   
  • The place just below the adams apple, yum!

For WOMEN: 

  • The inner thighs are a wonderful place for a kiss or two.
  • A few tiny bites or just strong breath on the back of the neck can create a bit of a stir. 
  • Same as men, the outer edge of the ear. 
  • Many women enjoy a light caress and gentle kissing of their wrists. 
  • The breasts and nipples are never a bad place to generate pleasure. 

Finally, for both men and women the lips and kissing are often one of the most stimulating activities that can lead to much much more. But don't rush, spend some time here and you will be rewarded!

So what are you waiting for? Make a date, find a date, and explore! 

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Random Act

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In San Diego I park my car near my house on the street.
 
Over the last months I have taken note of a metallic blue-silver 2004 Civic Hybrid that also inhabits the streets.
 
Its the car I used to have for nine years and every time I look at it I am reminded of wonderful memories.
 
Yesterday I went to Whole Foods and bought a little gift card, wrote a few words of happy day wishes, placed the two in an envelope and slid it under the windshield wiper of the Civic.
 
I am not sure what inspired me but hopefully the owner will experience a little smile and a little lightness.
 
A random act...how fun!  

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Good Fences

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The other morning I opened my fridge to find much of my roommates food items crossing the middle line that divides our space. 
 
While its no cause for World War, it made me think of my teacher Douglas Brooks and a line he commonly quotes from the Jewish text the Talmud. 
 
The line states that "Good fences make good neighbors." 
 
I imagine that the majority of yoga philosophy would look at this ideal and think of it as a bad seed. Fences create separation and isn't yoga about breaking down walls, connecting to love and peace, and remembering we are all one?
 
While fences can cut us off when over used, the Tantric Tradition would argue that they also have a useful place in the skillful participation of life. 
 
Fences represent boundaries and it is often the case that a conscious limitation can actually lead us to more freedom.
Its the idea that we can't say yes to every person, request, or creative idea we encounter.
 
To return back to my fridge example, having a clear boundary line creates clarity of how much space each person has to manage and what food item belongs to whom. It's a useful system for organization that helps mitigate potential drama.  
 
In the human conversation, while I'm happy to aknowledge the rights of all humans, I am not under the illusion that I must genuinely love every single person I meet.
 
The reality is that there are some people I encounter that are total jerks. I can have compassion for them, recognize where their behavior stems from, honor that they are doing the best they can, and all at the same time I can still choose to put up a fence that clearly communicates moveon.com, not interested in spending extensive time or energy here.
 
It too often that in Western culture we walk around with no fences, put on a fake smile, and then get pissed off at how others behave towards us. We then spin drama, get seduced by overly negative states or get taken advantage of.
 
Is there a place in your life where a clear boundary, a spacious but clear fence might make a frustrating situation clearer and more easeful? 
 

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Nature Vs. Nurture

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What makes someone do what they do? 
 
Is it genetics? What they inherited from their family line? The structures of their brain? Or is it the environment they grew up in and the people, organizations, thoughts, and ideas that molded their eventual behavior? 
 
As you might have guessed the answer is all of the above. Yet the pendulum of balance is definitely swinging more in the direction of nurture vs. nature as scientists discover more about how our genes and brain function.
 
In the past genes where believed to be fixed. Meaning that if you had a gene that increased your probability of contracting a disease or disorder you where sure to get it.
 
Today with the study of epigentics scientists have actually shown how genes have an on and off switch that is influenced by outside factors such as food, stress, and even thoughts. 
 
This means that the choices you make in your life actually have literal, concrete and very important consequences.
 
The power of nurture is extremely evident in the story of James Fallon  professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California Irvine and author of Psychopath Inside.
 
In doing research on the brain structures of convicted killers James discovered his brain structures matched that of serial murders.
 
After conversations with family and friends it was clearly illuminated that Professor Fallon exhibited traits of risk taking, reduced empathy, and at times an aggressive disposition. Yet he had never physically harmed anyone.
 
When he describes his life growing up it is very clear to see he was reared in a nurturing and loving environment.
 
Even though his brain and genetics where set up for him to be a killer his environment helped take him in a completely different direction.  
 
What do you need to shift in your life in the way you nurture yourself and others? How can the power of choice actually create literal impact and change on your path?
 
We should never ignore what nature has given us, but we should always remember our power to engage and change the course of even the most challenging of conditions. True freedom! 

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Carefree

The first part of this video might look usual but stick with it, its truly a sweet treat on how one carefree moment can create an imprint of vitality and remembrance.

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Energetic Impact

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When it comes to evaluations they usually seem to arise at the end of something.
 
Let us know how your stay was, your flight, your meal, or even your yoga experience at a studio.  
 
At our training in India last year my friend Coby and I made the decision to not give an evaluation at the end of the month long experience.
 
Why wait? The reality is that our thoughts are never really private, we are energy beings who impact the world in every moment. 
 
When people sit on something, stew, spin stories, and brew feelings its felt in the field. Its like poison slowly seeping out.
 
Its the reason we teach conscious communication and invite people to call out the elephant in the room in order to realign a situation for the better. 
 
When we sit on something and pretend to act a certain way on the outside, when on the inside its not really true, there is a lack of integration in what we think, feel, say and do. 
 
What would happen if for one day you bought in to this idea that your thoughts are not really private? What would you notice about the habit patterns of your mind? How might you source more compassion? And would you step up and have the difficult conversation with someone in your life when you get triggered?
 
What type of energetic imprint are you leaving behind?
 
Sadly your thoughts are no longer private. I know bummer! 

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Negative Are We?

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Have you ever had one of the those days where everything you did didn't line up and you just wanted to give a thumbs down to every thought, person, or experience you encountered? 
 
Well before you go and beat yourself up for being down and out on the world take a moment to learn more about the way the human brain is programmed in what is commonly known as the 'negative bias'.
 
In the brain we have an almond shaped bundle of neurons called the amygdala, which is responsible for processing certain emotions. Two thirds of the neurons that comprise this structure are dedicated to scanning our environment for threats.
 
Whether it be unfamiliar sounds, a face of someone you don't know well, or new outer stimulus that hasn't been classified as safe, this center of the brain is apt to hit the fire alarm for the sake of our survival. 
 
When we think about it in evolutionary terms it was important to recognize who was someone from your own tribe vs. a warring tribe, what threatening sound might represent a predatory animal, or what environmental stimuli could pose an unknown threat. Back in those days danger was around every corner. 
 
Today, although we are not faced with immediate life threats on a daily basis stress and anxiety seem to have become top stimulators of the amygdala. In this way keeping a positive outlook on life can become more challenging.
 
But guess what? Clear research is now showing that any practice whether it be yoga, meditation, or a walk in nature infused with awareness reduces activity in this part of the brain and creates an experience of added calm and reduced stress*
 
So when you see your thumb turning down at the events of you day take a deep breath, remember the brain's natural negative bias, and step into one little ritual to remind your body, brain, and heart that the days of the cavemen (and women) are OVER!

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Fire Pit

architect gas firepit outdoor fireplace

 
On my recent trip to Seattle my friend Bruce and I went out to a gay bar called Pony. 
 
The usual occurrence at these fine establishments is that men stay in conversation with their own clique and seldom venture out to converse with others around them. 
 
Who knows perhaps its primal. Stick to your tribe and stay safe. 
 
Well Pony had a little secret on their deck which changed the way the game is played. 
 
Fire pit. Back to the primal theme. I being a person that is always cold approached the fire pit where others where already gathered. 
 
Seconds later we were in conversation. When the first group left another group of men gathered around the fire and a new conversation took birth. 
 
This continued several more times. 
 
I was fascinated and excited how one tiny shift made it so much easier for myself and others to break free of the comfort zone and open the door for possibility. Friendships, potential love connections, and nourishing conversation. 
 
So ancient, so primal, so simple. Fire pit. 
 
Who would have guessed it would be making a comeback from the caveman days.

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Manscaping Heaven

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As a gay man there are some things I never new existed and thankfully gay culture has been kind enough to educate; enter manscaping. 
 
Today in our metrosexual world it no longer matters if your gay or straight. Grooming hair below the neck has become something of a necessity. Many men report that sex is more enjoyable when things are groomed and many women (and many men alike) tend to appreciate less hair for oral sex.  
 
It seems only fair,  women have been making an effort for a long time to be presentable, why shouldn't men be held to the same standard?
 
In my own journey I have been grooming on my own for years but when I moved to San Diego I decided to see if there is anyone who could help me out. I asked my hair stylist if he knew anyone who was a professional manscaper.   
 
He did, and a few days later I made an appointment.
 
All I can say is that going to someone to clean it all up is the best $20 I spend every month. Professional, clean, easy, quick, and especially on the backside no more mirrors and contorted angles--although yoga has been helpful with that over the years. 
 
If you or a man friend is wondering where to find professional help check out yelp, yep even they have a section on manscaping to help you find a friendly service in your city. 
 
From nose hair, armpit hair, back hair, chest hair, to pubic hair there are options like waxing, tweezing, threading, shaving, and the electric trimmer. Not all can be used in all places so make sure to read up on Do's and Don'ts if you're manscaping on your own. 
 
The reality of being human in the western world, at times it perplexes me, and at times it simply makes me smile! 
 
 

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Ritual Sun

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A few days ago on my birthday I had a very spacious morning. i woke up, made myself a cup of tea, chatted with my beloved family, and threw in a load of laundry.
 
Some might label doing the washing  on a birthday a screeching violation, but for me laundry  means I get to hang my clothes out to dry in the sun.
 
I live in California after all where sun rays are abundant and using the dryer often seems silly.
 
I love this little ritual. Putting the wet clothes in my basket, going outdoors, taking time to place each piece of clothing strategically on the line and on windy days fastening a clothespin for added security.
 
Hanging my clothes to dry helps me slow down, takes me back in time to simpler days of string and sun, and reminds me of the ever-present abundance and intelligence of nature. On warm days my clothes are done in an hour, pretty good competition for even the best dryer. 
 
The little gifts in life on a spacious birthday day. 

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Sustaining Love

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Yesterday I taught at a charity event here in San Diego called One Love. I was so humbled to be there helping to raise money for two amazing organizations that work with homeless and underprivileged youth. 
 
In my life I feel like I have made many mistakes and life detracting decisions but I had a strong foundation that helped me bounce back much quicker. These kids grew up  without the basic needs and their mistakes seem to carry a much heavier cost.
 
As I was guiding my segment of the class I talked about love as a sustaining force. The teachings of yoga place love in the Vishnu category of life, the thread that runs through our experience to bolster us every day on what sometimes seems like an uphill path. 
 
Love as a word is so overused in our culture, what does it really mean to each and every one of us? I like to contemplate its qualities of affection, appreciation, friendship, respect, tenderness, enjoyment, connection, touch, and the gift of being seen and heard. 
 
When I look at these words--knowing there are so many more--I better grasp the way these elements really are the backbone of my world. I have sourced love from myself, family, friends, intimate relationships, and the natural world and I feel blessed to be supported and upheld by this universal sustaining energy. 
 
As the One Love event reminded me regardless of our background, status, race, gender, sexual orientation every person deserves to stand on solid ground and have the possibility and opportunity to engage with life in order to thrive. 
 
So much gratitude to all those who give their time to help others feel and experience what is often a given for so many. 

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Needs

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Last night I had a glass of wine and sweet conversation with a dear friend. When I was heading to my car I noticed the gorgeous full moon. Bright, shining, full of vitality. 
 
As I came home and crawled into bed I thought to myself it is time to once again dedicate my intention and heart to calling intimate love into my life.
 
I composed a mindmap of what it is I want in a relationship with my beloved. I used the NVC list of needs to connect to the essence of what I want. Affection, closeness, intimacy, fun, play, closeness, to be seen, adventure, discovery, and aliveness, to name a few.
 
Every time I read these words I feel hope and possibility. I am so grateful to have these words to guide me in tapping into the true core of what I want to build and invite in.
 
This morning after doing some research online I found this amazing resource an NVC wheel of needs, and with color too. Thank you Bret Stein for putting these out in the world.
 
Click Here to DownLoad NVCNeeds Wheel  & NVCFeelingsWheel
 
 

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Masculine or Feminine?

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One of the most impactful elements that I have noticed in educating others about yoga is the relationship between the feminine and masculine. Whether you are a man or a women we are all composed of these two complementary polarities and looking at which one you feel more comfortable with can illuminate places of potential growth.
 
In the past several teacher trainings I have led it has been a true gift to watch several of the women in the group who had lost touch with their softer side step back into the conversation of the feminine. Wearing a dress, putting on some makeup, making time to get a massage, listening more, letting others decide, buying flowers or taking time out to spend with friends and not accomplish. 
 
It was an energetic shift that could be felt in the way that they carried themselves or conversed. Especially in our get it done, success based culture so many more women are armoring in order to protect themselves in a dog-eat-dog world. 
 
On the other end of the spectrum I recently offered a teacher feedback on the way she carried herself in the classroom while teaching. Her movement was a overly expansive, soft, and made her seem less empowered. Her exploration was to get a bit more fierce, to go kick boxing and fire up the more assertive and fiery part of her being. 
 
The key is that we tend to default to the part of ourselves that we are most familiar with, but what if by not exploring the other facet of our being we are actually creating more limitation?
 
Think to yourself where do you gravitate towards in your life? Would you characterize your existence more driven by the feminine or masculine? Are you pretty literate with both or is one dominating? 
 
Commit to 3 concrete action based inquiries to cultivate the flavor lacking in your existence for 2 weeks and see what unfolds! 
 

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