Tag Archives: blogging

Ducks!

Hi all! I had taken about a month or so off writing when my dear friend Sonia encouraged me to start posting again in a kind email. The nice thing about not writing for a living is you can take a hiatus when your inspiration is lowered, or you simply have ran out of ideas to post about. In the past month we had unusually hot weather and low rainfall in Hawaii. I am finding a symbiotic relationship with my garden and my writing habits. In short, when my garden isn’t producing, I get writer’s block.¬†Happily, a cold weather front came through the islands bringing lots of rain. So here are my fingers flailing on my keyboard again ūüôā

As far as my yoga practice, I bit the bullet and signed up to take my Junior Intermediate I assessment this year. It is a bit scary to be going up for assessment this year. Compared to how I have been normally practicing for the past several years, this year would definitely land more on the mrdu end of the meter. I will let those who study the sutra-s figure out what that means.

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t practiced though. I still teach all my classes and take some time when I can to get through a sequence or so. And I just got finished with a workshop with Laurie Blakeney who is now the IYNAUS assessment chair. In addition, I still do my mantra practices in the morning and evening. I honestly don’t see how I can get through the day without them.

My mentoring teachers are gracious and wrote me recommendations¬†which are needed for the applications. They have been understanding of my family and personal needs this past year which has drastically changed my ability to regularly practice evening classes at the studio with them. I will post updates about my progress towards this goal. Just don’t be too hard on me if things don’t go the way they should. The J-one syllabus is tough!

As far as my garden, it continues to enrich my life in ways I never realized. I remember reading one of Masanobu Fukuoka’s books and he said that he would regularly get visits on his farm/garden from ducks who would graciously poop on his plants providing wonderful fertilizer. I felt kind of sad when he said they built a big highway by his property and the ducks could no longer cross safely, so he was subjected to spread his own pelleted chicken manure in their abscence.

Yesterday I went outside in my garden and found these two hooligans (see picture above) waddling about in my garden. They are ducks from the nearby marsh. My wife ran and grabbed some bread and fed them heartily. Don’t worry Home Yoga Practice fans, I won’t
“duck” out on another month without posting ūüôā

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It’s been quite a year…

As I was walking around the block after tonight’s dinner, I had a chance to reflect back on this year of intense change. Despite having some major personal losses, this year has also had a few bright spots for me.

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One major highlight was finally meeting H.S. Arun. In the above picture, before a class in his Kailua workshop he asked me “how much do you weigh?” “200 pounds” I replied back. He then had me sit on him as a weight for his Upavishta Konasana. He asked me to take my hands to Urdvha Hastasana to centralize the weight. We really bonded well during the workshop. Thank you Robin Mishell for the photo.

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My classes are growing. I used to have an average of about 6 people per class. This year it has grown to about nine. The really nice thing about these numbers are that many of my students have been practicing with me for more than 5 years, and a small handful for more than a decade.

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I’m still in teacher training. Despite all that has happened this year, I am still working toward my Junior Intermediate I certification. Above is one of my mentoring teachers Ray Madigan with Laurie Freed (in Kurmasana) who passed her Junior Intermediate II this year. Along with Shelley Choy, Ray has been leading trainings a few days a month. I am blessed to have these small sessions with my teachers.

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My garden. I can’t express how much pleasure I derive from gardening. Watching life grown and change daily before your eyes awakens me to the miracle of this existence. Above is a tiny lettuce sprout springing out of the straw. I may even start another blog just focusing on my garden and the techniques of the Fukuoka style.

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My loving, talented wife. She has propped me up during my down times, and I have propped her up during her down times. We make a great team and I love her very much. Also helping to keep joy in our lives is my hanai niece Sasha who often joins us for our misadventures like eating robot served sushi.

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Lastly, my blog. If people keep viewing at the current rate, I should make 100,000 views this year. To me that is far higher than I have ever dreamed for this little blog of practicing Iyengar yoga at home. Thank you all for your readership, and I hope to have some great posts in 2017…

 

A tribute to my blogger friends

After blogging regularly for three years, one acquires a group of like minded writers¬†who travel with you on your journey. Some get off on stops and get on to other things, but seem to keep in touch in one way or another. Here are some of the precious blogs from my friends who contribute mightily to the internet. Also shout outs to my friends who don’t have a blog, but read and comment regularly on my feeds.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-8-58-14-pm¬†Anonymous Sadhaka¬†is authored by an Iyengar practitioner/barefoot runner who lives in Pune, India. I have learned so much from So…’s posts about the true meaning of spirituality from the perspective of an Indian woman. She has recommended many good books to me and her posts burst with wisdom. She has been a good friend and often thoughtfully reads and comments on my posts.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-8-59-34-pm¬†¬†Sweetreecrone¬†is an Asthangi blogger who follows Richard Freeman of whom I’ve always been a fan. k8macdo is an ardent yoga and tai chi practitioner who is also deeply spiritual. Her comments have helped encourage me to write more and she has been very supportive during my difficult year of loss.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-01-02-pm¬†¬†Mishedup¬†is a blogging friend who has a Gravitar that simply says “sober, widow, mom, warrior” Coming from a counseling perspective, each of these words hold tremendous power. When I have been at my worst this year, Mishedup has given me tremendous encouragement. For that I thank you!

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-09-41-pm¬†babycrowyoga¬†is a prolific blogger out of the UK who has recently graduated teacher training and is finding her sea legs in the ocean of yoga teaching. I admire her for having the courage to try Iyengar Yoga at the Maide Vale Institute in London, and even more for the courage to say that the Iyengar style didn’t resonate with her at this point in time. She has been a tremendously supportive friend.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-11-34-pm Yogaspy I always have to give props to my long time blogging friend Luci Yamamoto who is from Hilo, but now lives in Canada. She has been busy assisting in the administration for the Iyengar Yoga Assoiciation of Canada. I always say she is the person who inspired me to start my blog.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-02-47-pm  Sthapati Samanvayam has a unique perspective as a devout Hindu from the LBGTQ community. He has taught me tremendous insights about Hinduism in his blog. He has interesting tales of traveling through Midwest America looking for Hindu temples (and finding them).

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-08-02-pm¬†The Awkward Pose¬†Comes from another traveller. Paul Fallon is riding his bike across the US¬†and visiting all the lower 48 states asking one simple question to everyone he meets: “How will we live tomorrow?” and publishes the replies on his blog. He is quite steadfast and even had an accident which hospitalized him. The responses give me hope for this country which appears very divided after the election that we are all basically the same.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-13-47-pmAmber Foxx Mysteries Is a fellow New Mexican who is an accomplished author and also practices yoga. Sometimes I am in awe of people who actually read my stuff. Amber has been given me wonderful feedback and comments.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-06-26-pm¬†¬†The Dragon Journal of Taijiquan¬†Tim Richard’s blog is the Tai Chi version of what I would like to do with my blog. It is deeply philosophical and reflective. He founded a tai chi center in Durango and respects the lineage of his teachers. Tim is also a talented guitarist.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-15-20-pm¬†Peakmemory¬†is a blog by Dr. Jeremy Genovese who authored the book “Remembering Willie Nelson: The Science of Peak Memory.” He has reblogged a lot of my posts and has been a supportive commenter over the years.

I would also like to mention Felicity Green, Marjorie Erway, Yoga Cat, Aparna, FN Yogi, Yoga Marcia, Laurie Freed and Aziani Ismail for their support. Please forgive me if I forgot to mention you, but I appreciate all of my readers and commenters.

200th post. Holy cow!

I suppose I have been busy for the past two-and-a-half years. This is my 200th blog entry. When I step back and think that each post is roughly 400 words which is a page-and-a-half, I have easily written the equivalent of a novel (although a very disjointed novel). Like any writer worth his salt, every now and then I go back and re-read my entries. I have to admit there are some posts that make me cringe, but most make me feel satisfied.

There I times when I feel I write about the same thing over and over again. In one of Kofi Busia’s talks, he reflected on his days with¬†BKS Iyengar. He told Guruji¬†“after all your teaching I have concluded that your system can all be boiled down to ‘legs straight, arms straight, spine¬†straight.’ He then granted me with an advanced certificate.” As any good Iyengar practitioner knows, that is the general rule, but it is far more nuanced in how you get your arms, legs and spine¬†straight. In a way, that is how I feel about my writing and this blog.

One other aspect about my blog I have noticed: I am radically changing with this practice. Earlier in my ¬†blog, I wrote heavily on asana and biomechanics. At some point the spiritual side of my practice kicked in and wove its way into my writings. As I am also a mental health counselor, my background and practice with psychology has also found its way into my writing. Also having a recent death in the family has also influenced me quite a bit. I don’t consider myself an activist, but some of my posts are downright militant! I do notice I am passionate about defending yoga and the Iyengar style. I do see commercialism as a great obstacle to the evolution of the practice and write at length about that.

In some ways I feel I am a bit of a renegade in the Iyengar community as this is an unsanctioned blog. This is an Iyengar teacher’s perspective and not the Iyengar teachers’ perspective. But my fan base hasn’t complained yet and I have been reposted on the IYNAUS Facebook page many times over, as well as other countries’ Iyengar associations. And I continually get positive feedback from senior teachers all over the globe. So I must be doing something right.

I think we are all born with a siddhi, or spiritual power. As I peel away the layers, I think one of my siddhi-s is my ability to write. I never plan to write these posts, they just come to me at whatever time. After 15 minutes the words just get vomited out of my fingers without any real sense of doership on my part. I wonder if others have the same experience.

I am almost afraid to admit that I have other writing projects. One of them is the Sutra Discussion on reddit. As I am hopefully going to be ready to go up for my Junior Intermediate I certification next year, I feel I need to know the concepts in the first two pada-s on an in depth level. I read sutras daily and think about them. I feel this has been another catalyst in how my practice has transformed me. I like how reddit allows others regardless of their level of experience to discuss the sutras. I feel they are accessible for anyone who wants to go a little deeper and not as esoteric and unaccessible to the modern practitioner as some theorists purport.

As I have written before, I don’t have any great ambitions to be a writer and don’t plan on teaching yoga as a living any time soon. My work as a mental health counselor provides me a sufficient income, and jives nicely with my teaching schedule. Thank you for reading my rants, and may you stick around for my next 200 posts.

Home Yoga Practice Celebrates Two Years!

I would like to thank all in the WordPress blogosphere and beyond for your readership over the past two years. I feel this blog has far surpassed my expectations of being a “community chat” for my Yoga students. At 125,000 hits strong and 1182 followers, my humble blog has clearly gone past the small fraction of the Honolulu Iyengar community and into more than 200 countries.

As a blogger, I always get a bit freaked out when I see that a post is gaining momentum. My phone app alerts me that there is a spike in views. I often think “uh oh” did I upset someone or cause controversy? Ninety-nine percent of the time, is is because my post is getting reposted by my Iyengar peers on Facebook and other blog sites. I find that a humbling honor.

One good example is when I saw a picture of a young Geeta Iyengar in Virabhadrasana II and decided I would show why I felt that is was a brilliantly executed pose (in this age of selfies, such poses are hard to come by). The post took me all of 20 minutes to complete. The post went instantly viral with 2153 views in one day. I know there are some bloggers that get that many views in one hour, but for me that was a personal best.

Conversely, when I agonize over some blog posts which I think will be earth shattering and spend several days revising them before posting, they are often met with just a few views. Worstly, there are no comments!

As a writer you never know what’s going to fly. That’s okay, because I love to write and love to do Yoga. Blogging is the perfect marriage of the two.

As this blog matures, it has seen its share of changes. In this age of selfies, I am trying to present the many other aspects of Yoga to people aside from asana. Lately I have been writing posts about Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Mantras and Sloka-s, and also how I feel some trends in popular yoga are not quite jiving with the purpose and intent of the practice.

I often straddle a thin line of what my opinion is versus what is socially acceptable to say to the Yoga community at large. It is a sensitive bunch! Most importantly, I try to promote the Iyengar practice and its community as a whole. As stated before I am always open to criticism and feedback and don’t feel I have such a large ego that I have to be correct all the time, because more often than not I am searching for answers.

In this next year I hope to add more asana-s, sequences, and more of my adventures as I am working on my Junior Intermediate 1 certification. Not an easy feat with a full time job, three classes, and two elderly in-laws who require caregiving. Not to mention making time for my lovely wife. This should provide enough blogging material for years to come…

Many blessings!

Some aspirations for the new year

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The word “resolution” has always troubled me. It is defined as “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” It has a future orientation that gets away from the here and now. So I will post some of my New Year’s “aspirations” as I continue to blog in 2015.

In my personal practice, I will continue working toward my Junior Intermediate 1 certification. 2014 was a year checkered with family crises that required me to do my Yoga as a householder doing his dharma, and not so much an aspirant. On the weekends, my mentoring teachers have been offering informal teachings to some of us going up for the next level. I appreciate the informality of their process this time around, as going up for Intro II was very painstaking. At this rate, I may be ready for certification by the 2016 assessment season.

The poses in the JI-one syllabus are a tier more advanced than in Intro II. They include basic arm balances and more elaborate forward bends than in intro II. But remember that in Iyengar yoga, one has to know each pose from about 20 different approaches to just get a “basic understanding.”

The quality of teaching is expected to be one tier higher as well. We can no longer get away with showing the shape of the pose and a few instructions. Now we have to link heavily from the origin of action. That does not always come from the base of the pose like we learned in intro II. Again, this process is radically changing my views on asana from once cherished “truisms.”

As far as blogging, I don’t intend to change much. I had a wonderful year with about 40k views and 850 followers. My goal is not to blog to get attention, but just to share my practice and insights with those who don’t have access to Iyengar yoga either because of costs or because of lack of teachers in the area. I also like to clarify the practice for those who are getting muddled in a sea of selfie and commercialized yoga posts out there. So whether I get 10 viewers or a million followers in 2015 is inconsequential to me. I am just doing my dharma by passing on what I know (which isn’t actually that much).

To put it out to the universe, I would highly prefer a more stable year free from family crises. I would also prefer a more stable year for my case manager job for severely mentally ill people. I wish my clients would find peace and less suffering from their illness and hope that I can in some way help them find that peace.

You will not get rich teaching Yoga or blogging…and that’s not the point

 

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Making money teaching Yoga is a lonely road

I don’t¬†want to sound like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, but after reading two somewhat unrelated blog entries, it occurred to me that people are actually upset when they can’t make a living teaching yoga or blogging.¬†I read this post which was recently Freshly Pressed about a blogger who sounds disenchanted with the whole process after her blog reached 1.6 million hits. She aspires to become a professional writer, but even after one of her posts went viral she has yet to receive a writing contract or some other form of salvation for her hard and talented work. Another blogger wrote a post on why she quit Ashtanga Yoga and lists one of the reasons as that she cannot make a career of teaching. “Unless you will be moving to a town where there is not a single Yoga teacher within a radius of at least 50 kilometers, do not open a Yoga studio,” she says in the post.

Both writers are talented people who are worthy of making a living from their wonderful contributions in blogging and yoga. But who sold them on the idea that blogging and yoga teaching would be a way to riches? As both a blogger and a Yoga teacher, both of those entries hit close to home. There was a time when I really wanted to make a living teaching Yoga, but the reality is that to do so would consume so much of my time and resources, that I would actually wind up hating Yoga. I had similar delusions of grandeur about blogging. When I first got over a 100 views in one day I thought “wow, maybe this will lead me to be able to quit my day job.”

I used to write for a newspaper and had also worked in television news. It was fun for a few years, but I really started to hate it when day after day of deadlines led to more days of deadlines. There was no end to it, and that is why I switched professions. My feeling is that if I had to write a blog for a living, the quality of my posts would go down significantly because I would be trying to cater to some audience or to make some advertiser happy instead of writing what is in my heart.

To date, I have not made one red cent from my blog. Nor have I attracted one student to come to my class after reading my posts. I have even checked out other yoga bloggers who make money doing so. Matthew Remsky seems to be doing well. He is asking for $30,000 CAD by December 1 in donations to fund a yoga book he is working on. So far he is up to $13,200. Even if he does not make his goal, 13k is not a bad figure for simply asking for it.

But in real life, how far would $13k take you? You surely could not pay off your mortgage on that (although you could pay rent for a few months). This represents someone who is actually making money by blogging about the topics I write.

I read about B.K.S. Iyengar and the many years he went with only a handful of students. He stuck to what he loved doing and eventually it payed off. It was many many more years than most would have patience for in this “become-a-yoga-teacher-in-200-hours” era.

What blogging has done for me is to refine my ideas about the subject. By exposing my ideas to the blogosphere, other great bloggers have given me feedback on my ideas to help further develop and nuance them. Writing about Yoga has allowed me to slow down and really think about the process in teaching. I noticed a marked change in my teaching when I started blogging . It is not certain whether my students have noticed, but since I started my blog my class attendance has increased and I have gotten more teaching opportunities. Next week in will increase teaching two classes per week to three classes per week.

So the short of it is that blogging has enhanced my Yoga teaching, and teaching Yoga has enhanced my blogging. It is a mobius strip of activities that has not so much made me financially better off, but has made a huge difference in my personal satisfaction of both crafts. Who knows, maybe one day I may get a book deal.