Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bikram Choundry Sex Scandal

Photo & background info from
Yogis aren’t perfect people.  One famous yogi has demonstrated this…again…in a spectacular way.  Bikram Choundry has now been accused of sexual harassment and assault on a student.  I don’t know if this is true, and fortunately, I don’t have to stand in judgment of anyone.

Unfortunately, this is becoming all too common within the yoga community.  Several well-known gurus have been discovered in compromising situations, most often with students.  John Friend, being a recent example.

I believe, at some level, this is a power issue.  As students & practitioners, many people put these gurus on a pedestal that a regular human cannot sustain.  When will we learn that these teachers, while wise in many ways, are just human beings, like the rest of us?

We often see celebrities & ball-players whose money and fame have gone to their heads.  This leads to a feeling of superiority and behaviors they ordinarily would not participate in.  But even dedicated yoga practitioners can fall in that trap.

One of the tenants of yoga is that all beings are special…so why is EXTRA specialness applied to the rich and famous?

I ask you today, to look at how you view celebrities of all types, and realize you are just as wonderful, just as cherished as they are.

And if you’re on your way to becoming a famous instructor, let these stories be a warning for you.  Retain your humility.  Don’t think of yourself as a guru, but as a servant.  That’s a tough way for anyone, but a valuable practice, in itself.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Adam Levine's Yoga

So, I'm not really into celebrities, but it seems the whole world is talking about this guy, Adam Levine, right now.  He's the lead singer of Maroon 5 and the host for the hit show, The Voice.  But more importantly, he's a yogi. reports that at each of his concerts, he has a yoga room set up back stage.  "Playing a show before thousands of people is a highly unnatural state" he says,"and when I get on the mat to do an hour of yoga before the show, I come out physically relaxed."  If yoga can help Adam Levine relax in front of all those people, what can it do for you today?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lululemon, Modesty, & Yoga

So, by now everyone's heard of the Lululemon problem with their see-through yoga pants.  It's a big joke all over the country.  It was clearly an accident, and they did not mean to have such skimpy wear.  But it makes me think about yoga and modesty and clothing.
Here, in Johnson City, Tennessee, we're pretty conservative.  It's rare that I think a student is exposing too much.  But in other parts of the country, skimpy yoga wear is a way of life.  It's all about "the look", with your designer yoga gear.  (Lululemon is one of the more expensive brands, but many companies carry yoga pants that cost over $100)  Seen and be seen is often the main issue of someone's practice.
I'm not against looking good, or even purchasing from these companies.  I think they have great performance products, and if you do a lot of yoga, it can be a good investment.  One day soon, I'd like to carry great yoga clothing here at the studio.
But let's look at the original yogis.  They were men, to begin with.  But they were also ascetics.  They renounced all worldly goods, and lived by the kindness of others.  I can bet they didn't do spandex.  They probably modeled the latest in "dirty rags".
So, let's look for balance.  Enjoy your cute yoga clothes, but keep in mind that yoga is so much more than the outside.  It's all about what's inside that counts.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Negative thoughts: Now What?

Controlling those thoughts!
Monday, we looked at how to recognize automatic negative thoughts when they come to mind.  But now what?
Unfortunately, through depression, I have lots of experience with this!  When I first started becoming aware of my automatic negative thoughts, I was overwhelmed with their constant presence.  But over time, I've been able to quiet my mind, and to recognize "true" thoughts vs those automatic bad ones.
Step 1:  Acknowledge the thought as negative and/or destructive.
Step 2:  Examine the thought:  Is it true, or is that just your monkey mind working overtime?
Step 3:  If it's true, but a negative thought, what can you do right now to change the situation?
             If it's untrue, remind yourself strongly that "THAT'S NOT SO!"  Follow up with encouraging words to yourself!
Step 4:  Take action:  If you thought of a way to change the situation, do that immediately!  If it was untrue, or there's nothing to do about it, this is when the yoga & meditation come in.  Notice your body.  Notice your breath.  Count your breaths, or otherwise shift your focus away from the negative thought.  If it's convenient, practice a yoga pose or two, to get you out of your head and into your body.
This seem simple, but it's a powerful practice to change your thoughts today.
How have you dealt with negative thoughts in the past?
Have you been able to change your life by changing your thoughts?
I'd love to hear your story!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Recognizing Automatic Negative Thoughts

Do you suffer from negative thought patterns?  (samskaras)
In The Mindful Way Through Depression,  by Williams, Teasdale, Segal and Kabat-Zinn, the authors offer the following practice:

"The following is the same list of automatic thoughts reported by people who were currently depressed that we saw in Chapter 1.
1-I feel like I'm up against the world
2-I'm no good
3-Why can't I ever succeed?
4-No one understands me.
5-I've let people down
6-I don't think I can go on
7-I wish I were a better person
8-I'm so weak
9-My life's not going the way I want to.
10-I'm so disappointed in myself
11-Nothing feels good anymore.
12-I can't stand this anymore
13-I can't get started
14-What's wrong with me?
15-I wish I were somewhere else
16-I can't get things together
17-I hate myself
18-I'm worthless
19-I wish I could just disappear
20-What's the matter with me
21-I'm a loser
22-My life is a mess
23-I'm a failure
24-I'll never make it.
25-I feel so helpless
26-Something has to change
27-There must be something wrong with me.
28-My future is bleak
29-It's just not worth it.
30-I can't finish anything
As you look at the thoughts on the list, think about how strongly, if at all, you would believe each of the thoughts if it popped into your head RIGHT NOW.
When you have finished, think back to a time when you were at your most depressed and then return once more to the list.  Think now about how strongly you would have believed each of those thoughts had they occurred AT THAT TIME"

If you've ever struggled with depression, or if you know someone who has, I recommend you read The Mindful Way Through Depression.  It might just change your life.

Friday, March 8, 2013

How Jennifer Aniston Stays in Shape

Jennifer Aniston yoga
Jennifer Aniston in Badakonasana

I know this is SO yesterday's news, but did you hear that Jennifer Aniston is getting married?  It just reminds me that she is well known for doing yoga.  She is a beautiful, strong woman, and will tell you that yoga changed her life.  You can hear it in your own words in this video.  In 2009, People magazine did an article titled, "Jennifer Aniston: Yoga changed my life."  In this article, Aniston sited her great friend and yoga teacher, Mandy Ingber, as her guide.
I hope Jennifer is still doing yoga.  I know it helped to keep me calm and centered while preparing for my wedding.
And if she happens to read this:  Thank you so much for promoting yoga to the world!