Category Archives: Uncategorized

Guru Poornima notes, or why I went from an asana-based practice to a mantra-based practice

Hi all, today’s full moon hails in Guru Poornima, or the annual event where one’s guru is observed and honored. Although I don’t teach asana anymore, I still honor what I have learned from the Iyengar family, whom I consider my guru. When I was learning to be a teacher, I heard of the time when Prashantji was in a terrible accident. During his convalescence. it was said that the Iyengar family chanted mantras to assist him in his recovery. It is said that prior to that, the invocation to Patanjali was not chanted at all during classes they taught. Not only did Prashant survive, he later became one of the world’s most influential teachers not so much on how he taught asanas, but how he used asana as a means to gain adhyatmik knowledge combining body, mind, and breath. Now the Invocation to Patanjali and Guru Mantra are included in Iyengar classes.

I chanted the Guru Mantra today. Shortly afterwards, a friend who reads my blog reached out to me. I gave him a call and we had a nice conversation about yoga, life and writing. It reminded me that mantras produce daily miracles, much like prayer. In fact Prashantji calls mantras prayers. They are one in the same.

There was a time in my life when I really needed and benefitted from asana. I probably still need them as much, but have not been as focused on them as my nightly mantra practice. I feel they have given me blessings and the fortitude to withstand a lot of pain over the past few years.

If you have read my blog the past few years, I would like to impart that yoga can take you on journey that is only yours alone. You can use techniques from teachers to learn certain skills, but only you can walk your path. Use what you learn in any form of yoga you practice to gain insight to take the next step whatever that will be. For me, this is the path of yoga.

Many blessings during this auspicious day!

Leftovers, or follow up from “lemon squeezy” — The Windward Gardener

I got inspired a few months back by a recipe from Ina Garten. It is a simple pasta recipe that only involves two lemons, butter and some pasta. Now that I had a big juicy ripe lemon on the table, I had to give it a try. Just to get it out of the way, […]

Leftovers, or follow up from “lemon squeezy” — The Windward Gardener

Unlike Asana, Mantra is not a step-by-step instructional process

Hi all, just letting you know I am still doing yoga, but mainly with a mantra practice. I would say once I started exploring this practice, it grabbed me and directed me. Reflecting if I could “teach” this to someone, I would say it would be next to impossible. Everyone has a different constitution and that constitution is guided by the practice. Your practice could never be replicated by someone else with the same results.

Mantras give the practitioner a very deep inquiry guided by devatas. Repetition gives them fuel, or a battery charge if you will. Once the power is a certain capacity, things change dramatically. Once you have “been charged” with one mantra, others will find their way to you depending on what you need.

The one result of regular mantra practice is that it accelerates the burning of karma. This can be a painful process. You may lose things that you think you need, but don’t. Relationships may go into upheaval and even end. That is because you are changing.

You never notice the bad habits that get lopped off. You just lose the desire to do them. They are replaced by a feeling of santosha, or contentment. Santosha will radiate through the practitioner who becomes unbothered by worldly things, but maintains them more easily some how.

You become sensitive to the universe. It is painful for a while. Planet placements effect your core being. Then you notice how mantra practice somehow protects you from malefic astrology. You become immune to emotional hardship, and simply radiate contentment.

At least that has been my experience, and as I have read others, it seems to be a somewhat universal experience. Things may change, and I will update you. But for now I have found contentment and power.

I am posting a picture of my amaryllis that blooms once a year. This flower is a good metaphor. I water it regularly and take care of it with faith, and then it rewards me with its annual flowers. When one “waters” their practice with mantra, you too will bloom in a short while. Have faith.

Hope is on the way

Hi all! We are well into the throes of 2021 with some good things in the air. It doesn’t take much to remember what we were all doing a year ago about this time. We were probably at our job, maybe in an office, maybe in a studio, going to restaurants and public places without a second thought. Maybe we heard some rumblings at this time about the Corona Virus in Italy, but it wasn’t in our collective psyche.

Today is different. If we still have our job, we are either doing it from home or have to put on some PPE just to get through the day. Now most of us know someone who has had COVID, and sadly many know someone who has died from it.

The disinformation campaign continues on FB feeds. We all seem to have a family member or old high school buddy pushing conspiracy theories about the vaccine and downplaying the effects of the virus. As Anthony Fauci said, “we don’t know everything about this virus.” In a recent training, I learned that COVID’s attack on the olfactory nerve may lead to neurlogical complications. But again as Fauci said, we don’t know everything about the virus.

Luckily, the vaccine is being rolled out. My mother-in-law was one of the first wave of people in Hawai’i to get one. Since she has received the Pfizer version of the vaccine, she said she has no side effects. Her arm was sore after the first day, but that’s it. She due for her second shot next month.

When you hear disinformation about the virus, it is best not amplify it. If you disagree with someone, do so on a private chat or text. That way people reading the thread in your conversation aren’t fed untruths which are propagated by those who spread the disinformation.

On a somewhat sad note, I have decided to allow my IYNAUS certification to lapse as I don’t anticipate teaching this year. This is partly due to the reality of safety and partly due to my ongoing challenges as a caregiver and full time employee. I am still practicing, but am taking time for myself to get through this horrible period.

May you all be safe.

Grieving everything

At the beginning of this pandemic in mid-March, our lives as we knew them got thrown into the spin cycle. Suddenly we couldn’t go to the store normally, we couldn’t eat in restaurants, we couldn’t attend family functions without risk. We as a world have somewhat adapted to my newly-hated catch-phrase “the new normal.” An ambiguous term that means one week you can go to the park, the next week it is closed and what ever other amalgamation our local governments cook up to mix public safety with businesses allowed to eke out rent.

My office director gave us all a friendly email and linked an article from the Harvard Business Review called “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief.” It gave me a useful term to add to my vocabulary: “anticipatory grief.” In short, you know some really bad shit is going to happen, just where when and to what extreme. And as a kicker, how much it will affect you and your family.

Six months into this pandemic, the bad shit continues to roll in. We are stuck in our homes with very few options aside from supply runs and a run to the park if it is deemed legal. My wife and I took our dogs out and there is a “one person” per activity limit. Just as we pulled in to the parking lot with our two dogs, a policeman rolled right up to us and just parked. He was watching what we were going to do. Dutifully, my wife got out of the car got one dog and walked about 50 feet, before I got out of the car and walked “individually,” like we were two strangers that got out of the same car. After a while he left and we were confused like scofflaws with guilt being caught after lifting a candy bar from 7-11.

I understand why we have to do this. Watching super-spreader events like college parties and MAGA rallies boil my blood even more than the oppression of having dog walking supervision from the local PD. It is the super spreaders who make so we have to do this. People tossing science aside because of their “rights” with little regard of who they may spread the virus to and who will later die as a result. Just with the same disregard of setting off a wildfire because of a gender reveal.

As I am writing this, I realize it is more just venting on my part. The reality is that this situation is causing communities and families to crumble apart before our very eyes. It will take enormous strength for us to pull through and make our “new normal” feel normal again.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to one another.

A call to action

Hi all! I know it’s been a while. Just wanted to share a few of my thoughts our our upcoming US election.

America is in trouble. When Trump was elected on a November evening in 2016, I went for a walk around the block when it was evident that he would win. My neighbor was screaming at her TV about the horrors of what Trump can potentially do to this country.

Four years on, her screams were valid. As I am writing we have 180,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19, a jobless rate mirroring that of the Great Depression, and widespread racial tensions and hatred.

On a personal level, I have not been able to teach a live yoga class since March, and because of the widespread virus in Hawai’i, cannot engage in normal activities like hiking, going to dinner at a restaurant, or taking my dogs to the park.

Usually, a US president does not affect its citizens on a daily personal level. In the past, we would get annoyed at a proposed policy or position on an issue and an email to your congressperson would be the most politically active you would get.

Now you don’t have to only worry about catching a virus, you have to worry about being shot by either police or vigilantes with guns, especially if you are a person of color. Unless you are in the top tier economically, your taxes have increased substantially. Forget public yoga classes until there is a vaccine, and Facebook is ensuring that groups who oppose vaccinations are spreading disinformation with more efficacy than the experts. I have seen family members say they will refuse to get vaccinated because Bill Gates will insert a satanic microchip in you. This is seen as fact in many facebook circles.

We still have hope. Here is a list of things you can do:

  1. Register to vote. The GOP has made it harder to vote by kneecaping the US Postal Service and destroying sorting equipment. If you have the option to vote in an official election drop box, do so. In Hawai’i we are able to track if your ballot has been counted. Here is a website to see if you are registered.
  2. Mail your completed ballot within 24 hours of receiving it. Nothing is worse than seeing your unfilled ballot the day after the election and seeing the candidate you opposed give a victory speech.
  3. Get your family and friends to vote, especially if they just came of age in this election cycle. Vote as a family at the dinner table. Discuss the candidates and the issues. Voting as a 3-5 person block is much more powerful.
  4. Follow candidates on social media. They will give updates of challenges they are having. Even retweeting or liking will expand visibility of your candidate.
  5. Recognize bias and propaganda. Russia was successful in manipulating millions of Americans and sowing discord in 2016, and will be using the same tactics in this election. Just recently, Fox news hosts praised a 17 year old for murdering protestors.
  6. Learn to take a break when needed. If you need log off for a few days because the election is causing anxiety, it is healthy.

Those are just a few off the top of my head, please add more in the comments. I don’t expect that all of my followers will agree, and normally I have stayed away from politics. However, as a student of history I’ve always wondered how someone like Hilter could come into power and sow such destruction in such a short period of time. It was because people were silently complicit. VOTE!

Tales of barter-sharing in the middle of this epidemic

How are you all doing? During these rough times there are always silver linings. One for me is how I am connecting with neighbors and friends (done from a safe distance of course). I would like to coin the term “barter-sharing” or sharing what you have with someone unconditionally. This usually prompts them to return the favor.

My brother-in-law gave us a four pound Wahoo filet from the fish market at the pier. Because of the epidemic, fishermen have been suffering because all of the restaurants are closed. This was a wonderful windfall, but our family of three could not possibly consume all this fish before it goes bad. Fresh “Ono” as it is called in Hawai’i is such a wonderful treat. My wife suggested we give half away to someone. We found the contact number of a friend/neighbor who we usually see at the dog park. Since the quarantine we have lost touch. She has a sizable family since her daughter had to return back home from college due to the outbreak. We texted her and drove by and handed a bag of the fish thought the window–keeping our distance.

The next day she texted that she and her daughters made a batch of homemade bagels and challah bread (see above picture). Likewise she dropped it off curbside. It was delicious!

As restaurants are struggling in Hawai’i they are still permitted to do takeout orders. My wife and I went to our nearby favorite restaurant to give them business. The business owner was lamenting that she is almost out of paper towels because the department of health forbids restaurants from reusing the same cloth towel. My wife and I had a small surplus of paper towels because of our caregiving needs. We didn’t give it a second thought and brought a few rolls to the business owner. Her face had so much relief and gratefulness that it was a gift to us outright.

Lastly, we had to move all of our office computer hardware from work to our home office this past week. A coworker who is more tech-savvy than I helped me figure out how to set up software for the home office. She went out of her way to assist me in doing this, so I gave her a jar of homemade okra pickles (from my garden).

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I’m sure there are many more stories like this out there. Please share them in the comments below. In our panic buying frenzy, I’m sure all of us have a surplus of something that would probably help someone else. This is a time to showcase your cooking/baking talents, or specialized knowledge and give selflessly to people if you have the means. For those who are in need, don’t be afraid to ask and you’ll find many people who are more than happy to give and share with you. Many blessings and be safe during this time.