The Art of Yoga Practice

Life and Yoga

Yoga practice is like life

Each circumstance in which we find ourselves is like a pose.

Some poses are hard to hold, others are pleasant.

It is how we hold the pose that determines whether or not we will suffer or grow

And whether or not we will listen to the drama of the ego or the wisdom of the spirit.

The Art/Path of Practice

Making Practice your Art  —- Developing, make your art your practice, changes, changing, never the same, discovering, rediscovering, submitting to awkwardness, contemplating, receiving, sending.

Every practice is learning  —- Unconscious incompetence —-> Conscious incompetence —->Conscious competence —-> Unconscious competence.

Right Effort —- Do not force yourself to do something you cannot do and be not sloth, sluggish.  Be joyful and healthful. nourish mother earth.  The self-generating power of discipline, build your practice with meaning. Balance from floor up, foot to foot, shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip.  Adjust plumb line, knee over ankle, hip over knee.  Focus inwardly, focus outwardly. Cultivate conscious breathing, Affirmation – feel the mountain in mountain pose.


Some short sayings, mantras inspiring one to practice yoga.

Open the Heart Center, Be kind to yourself – feel life – happiness soothing throughout the body.

The non-doing Paradox, The wisdom in it, and the equanimity that comes out of it, lie in knowing that surely will. Non-[doing is not passive rather it takes courage and energy.

Know Yourself, Keep in touch with your strengths and weaknesses, validate your life yourself, take time to quietly  and logically think through problems and transform them top blessings.

Flowering of Mindfulness, Choose to be mindful of something you do each day.  Deepen your mindfulness into more things you do.

How do we connect to our yoga practice?

Things we  connect with in yoga:  Body, Breath, Focus, Thoughtfulness, Passion, Clarity, Joy, Balance, Harmony, Abundance, Transformation, Release

How does your yoga practice connect with your body?

How does your yoga practice connect with your breath?

How does your yoga practice connect with your focus?

How does your yoga practice connect with your thoughtfulness?

How does your yoga practice connect with your passion?

How does your yoga practice connect with your clarity?

How does your yoga practice connect with your joy?

How does your yoga practice connect with your balance?

How does your yoga practice connect with your harmony?

How does your yoga practice connect with your abundance?

How does your yoga practice connect with your transformation?

How does your yoga practice connect with your release?

Law of Attraction :  as a human being living in this time and space that alignment through thoughts, feelings and actions will bring exactly to you what you have aligned yourself with. What you ask for will be delivered.  You probably don’t know how to ask or even what your asking for  and you certainly don’t know when the Universe is going to deliver it.

3 influences on our connections:

you were born into the universe and aligned by parents a certain way

you grew into certain patterns and thoughts and this can change especially as you get older

your environment can help change

Link to printable version



Satya – Truthfulness, impeccable truthfulness

What is the Truth?

There seems to always something that is trying to impress the truth to are consciousness.   Sometimes it is friend, a family member, often times is is the news, a teacher, an authority figure, on and on. So as yogis what do we think about the truth?

 Truth Changes

What is true today most likely will change as time goes on.   There are some absolute truths to be sure, we are all human for example.  However we are all different, have different voices, fingerprints, lifestyles.

Truth in Yoga

As we do our poses how do we concentrate, focus, bring yoga intention to our poses?  It starts with tuning into: our bodies, our breathing, our concentration and focus, and finally bringing mindfulness to our yoga practice.  Tuning into our bodies requires that we eliminate other distractions.  This is mostly done in an urban environment by going to yoga class, being with others who share the same interest.   Conscious breathing – lengthening the inhales and exhales bring a deeper relaxation and empties out stress.  Concentration the ability to bring the mind to what is important and focus the ability to narrow in.

Clarity the freedom of sensing what is and letting go of what is not.  What is the benefit of yoga and how do we deepen that?  To find clarity is multilayered: awareness, deepening senses, being true to yourself.

For me this is where there is the greatest opportunity for impeccable truth.  Many times are daily lives get in the way fussing and fidgeting over mindless details.  Habits that we have developed then we bring  to yoga obfuscate our yoga.  Yoga teaches me to be who I really “truly” am.

Truth to Others

How do we project ourselves to the family, friends, coworkers, employers, outside of selves in general?   Sports a product of our culture teaches many times wining is everything.  This seems to me the contradiction of the conditions we live in.  Truth has a relative component to where you live, work, how you do your business.  Being impeccably truthful at all times is probably not practical.  How do we manage that?

What is Yoga Intention?

Many times at the start of class as we are tuning in I ask yogis to set an “intention” which leads me to think  “What is yoga intention?   The four layers of tuning that we use in class frequently correspond to the koshas.

  • annamaya kosha—the physical body
  • pranamaya kosha—the breath or life-force body
  • manomaya kosha—the mental body
  • vijanamaya kosha—the wisdom body
  • anandamaya kosha—the bliss body

We generally use the first four koshas for tuning in, the anadamay kosha  perfect balance, nirvana something that takes a lot of yoga not probably going to happen while tuning in.  the vijianamaya kosha – wisdom body, mindfulness, thoughtfulness is generally where we set a yoga intention.  Yoga not huff puff non thinking exercises,  but a profound union of mind, body, and spirit.   Setting an intention deepens the yoga practice.

Yoga Intention

An intention can be a simple word you dedicate your practice to that represents a value you’d like to bring into your life. For example, love, trust, vulnerability, freedom from fear, openness, love, compassion, truth or tenderness. Powerful intentions directly address feelings you’d like to modify. Feeling weak? Set strength as your intention. Doubtful? Go with belief.

During your practice, perhaps during your most challenging pose (Wheel or Handstand, anyone?) call forth that intention, whether it be strength or belief in your abilities, and allow it to power you through the posture. In the same fashion, when you are having difficult moments in life, once your intention is set you’ll be able to call it forth when you need it, to guide your decisions and actions and base them on your values. Intentions give you a way to stay grounded and to connect with your true self, no matter what storms start brewing.

Intention vs Goal

According to Buddhist teaching, intentions are not oriented to future outcomes. Instead, an intention is more of a continual aspiration, or a path, based on an understanding of what really matters most to you. In a way, establishing your intention is making a commitment to those values most important to you.  Over time, your actions begin to align with your intentions,  bringing clarity, truthfulness to life.

Being Intentional

Another way to look at intention in the context of a yoga practice is to ask yourself why you go to yoga class. What were you hoping to achieve through class or where were you hoping to arrive? If you answer these questions honestly, you will find your intention.  When you begin to understand what you are seeking from your yoga practice, you can see how to direct energies and actions to get there. Your intentions will change over time as you evolve.  Take the time to tune in, listen to the body, breath the breath of life, focus the mind the body,  and  develop your intention(s).





Mindfulness – When Deep Listening and Kind Speech Challenged

When Deep Listening and Kind Speech is Challenged

We’ve all been in situations where we feel like screaming, getting back at someone, or just in a bad situation that seems unsolvable at work or at home.  Some arguments fester for a long time till they break open into messy battles.  Clearly left unresolved the problem many times reoccurs and we wonder why.   Many conflicts start for who knows why and continues on and on.


When anger and emotions are high, this most likely is not the time to figure out how to resolve problems.  Most conflicts are communication problems, thing constructively – what can I do to make the situation better.  Find space and time that works to resolve things.


Most people issues probably don’t have a quick or easy solution.  Demonstrating commitment, intention to work towards solution.  Letting problems fester, go on and on is what happens many times.   Be mindful, show desire to find peace.

Inner Voice

Pay attention to your “mind speak” that inner voice that connects to the monkey brain that want to jump out and say something, do something, act on something that probably is not mindful.  Develop meditate on emptying out these stressful ways.  Bring your self into “present” moment.  Find refuge, develop places to go to reduce stress.

Like to have your thoughts

I’ve been thinking about ever since the last get together and found this difficult.  Please add your comments.


True Happiness, 2nd Mindfulness Training

In preparation to Yoga Community Breakfast – May 7, 2014.

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting.

I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering. True happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion.

Seeking untold wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair.

Aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy.

How to develop the practice of being happy?

Happiness is a choice
Evolution teaches us to constantly be on our guard. Our natural response to most things is the classic “fight or flight”. From competing in school for grades, to competing for better wages the natural reaction is hooray for me. Realizing that being mindfully happy takes work and is a choice we make, happiness so many times elusive, starts with developing this mental attitude.

Being grateful for what you have
In some ways we all suffer. Suffering is part of evolution. You touch something that is hot you react by jerking away thankfully and then you think about how to not do that again. If you ice skate you are bound to fall down. Sometimes this is enough to not ice skate. In some ways however it is not about falling down but falling up. When you do fall (inevitable if you skate, walk, run) how do you get up. Do you get up and complain, say how stupid you are? Hopefully we can be grateful, learn from are falls, become better for it. Make everything that comes your way a blessing.

Acceptance of who you are
Being truthful to yourself, yet not caving into other people made me do it, making your parents (it’s in my genes) responsible. Many Buddhists exhort most suffering originates from being something you are not. The opposite is accepting who you are based on what other people say and do. Accepting some falsehood like your father was argumentative so you can’t help it. Especially as we get older, take the time to be present, empty out who you were, what you have done, what you might of done.

Honor yourself with moments of kindness, silence, meditation, finding refuge, conscious breathing
Practice moments of kindness – Let someone you know very well have there way. Take the time to listen to what your loved ones ares saying.
Practice moments of silence – Observe what happens when you are silent.
Practice meditation – In the beginning practice with a group, so fewer distractions.
Practice/develop refuge – find places of refuge, develop them into places you can go to reduce stress.
Practice conscious breathing – lengthen the inhales/exhales, fill and empty the lungs

Being kind and gracious to others
No criticisms, harsh language, poisonous games
Do this for hours, days at a time, practice.

Finding balance not in the mathematical or short sighted view. The pendulum swings and is only briefly centered. However the ebbs and flows of the pendulum, finding balance.

First bring our thoughts into consciousness, then developing these thoughts into actions, and then finally practice, practice, practice.

Five Mindfulness Trainings

The Five Mindfulness Trainings represent the Buddhist vision for a global spirituality and ethic. They are a concrete expression of the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, the path of right understanding and true love, leading to healing, transformation, and happiness for ourselves and for the world. To practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings is to cultivate the insight of interbeing, or Right View, which can remove all discrimination, intolerance, anger, fear, and despair. If we live according to the Five Mindfulness Trainings, we are already on the path of a bodhisattva. Knowing we are on that path, we are not lost in confusion about our life in the present or in fears about the future.

The First Mindfulness Training: Reverence For Life
Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.

The Second Mindfulness Training: True Happiness
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. I am committed to practicing Right Livelihood so that I can help reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and reverse the process of global warming.

The Third Mindfulness Training: True Love
Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness – which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training: Loving Speech and Deep Listening
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.

The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Nourishment and Healing
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.

Reference Thich Nhat Hanh, Deerpark Monastery – 5 mindfulness trainings>

Loving Speech and Deep Listening

Loving Speech – Deep Listening, 4th Mindfulness Training

This was the theme for Community Breakfast April 2, 2014.

Practice loving speech and refrain from speaking to others with harsh words.
When we use loving speech, we avoid misunderstanding and much suffering.

Deep listening, compassionate listening, generous listening, listening below the noise, or listening with a third ear the depth of truly being present.

It takes thinking, practicing, thoughtfulness to bring any mindful pattern to our lives.

Loving Speech

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and to speak with joy, inspiring hope, and confidence requires practice and thoughtfulness. Practice diligence to nourish understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness and transform anger, violence gradually reducing suffering to me and to others.

I will practice – Not to spread news that I do not know for fact and not to utter words that can cause division or discord.

Deep Listening

With modern social networks we are more connected with the world and yet rarely do we take the time to listen to ourselves and our closest family. How can we listen to ourselves to transform suffering and difficult situations? Listening to others to dislodge the superficial judgemental behaviours that distract us from listening and deepen that feeling of being connected, being present. Solving a problem, winning an argument is not deep listening. Looking deeply, connecting with yourself and others realizing how we are all interconnected generously sharing space.

How to Practice

Spend time silently meditating, sitting quietly.

When movement is necessary, try walking meditation.

Be aware of negative things that you might say and realize that they are rarely of any benefit.

When you are angry, postpone communication. Angry communication escalates usually into monstrous mindlessness.

Take the time to think, practice, be thoughtful.

Community Breakfast

We have a first Wednesday of the month breakfast club. We generally have a theme each month.

Theme for May: True Happiness

Themes from previous months:

Yoga Nidra (deep relaxation)
Habits – what are they about
Devotion – how to deepen the yoga practice
Truth – bringing meaning, identity, truthfulness to yourself and to your yoga practice

The next breakfast meet will be May 7, 2014.