Self Teacher Study – Freedom Yoga Immersion Part II

Freedom Yoga Immersion Part II

This is the second half of my review of Erich Schiffmann’s Freedom Yoga Immersion. As inspiring as this online course was I did see a few red flags along the way. To be honest, I almost stopped watching at Day 4. But I pushed through and remembered to use what works and leave the rest. Here’s what I left behind and what I’ll take into the future…

#1: Watching Television. At one point a student asked if it was possible to practice “being online” while watching television. Schiffmann said yes, but I do not recommend watching television.

#2: The All One/One Love lectures had a heavy New Age-propaganda spin to them. I detected elements of “idiot compassion” (a phrase coined by Chogyam Trungpa) and the psychological warfare tactics described by KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov.

#3: The Milarepa Necklace. Schiffmann was seemingly unaware of the implications of wearing an image of this Tibetan yogi and sorcerer. This is not to be taken lightly. Not from anyone, not even an eccentric long-haired hippy.

#4: Food/Vegetarianism. I do not recommend attempting to replace food with love. Love is an emotion. You have to eat to survive. What you choose to eat has a direct impact on your physical and mental health.

#5: Free Will. Schiffmann believes that the best use of free will is to not use it. When it comes to spiritual practices it’s very easy to get lost in the “follow the leader” mentality. Handing over your free will to whatever you believe might be your intuitive connection to the Divine… well, that requires a high level of discernment, training and self-cultivation.

The Slow Path is Best

Learning how to engage with your intuition takes time. Traditionally, a guru and an aspirant would test one another over ten years before entering into a formal student-teacher relationship. I would suggest taking this same approach with your intuition. We’re talking about unraveling a lifetime of habituated thought patterns in order to understand who you are. And that’s just the beginning!

By all means, connect with your intuition through your body. Practice letting go in savasana (a preparation for dying). Get comfortable with feeling open, expansive and unguarded. Practice listening to your inner guidance in this relaxed state. Ask for guidance that is in alignment with your highest good. Connect with your desire to know.

Something’s going on here, … , 

Little Dharma Sessions

Coming back to what worked. I’m so grateful to have been able to take this training for free. The two parts that were most helpful were Schiffmann’s encouragement to:

  1. Write more. I so appreciated the recommendation to jot down my on-the-mat inspirations, and to continue writing articles. He called these practices “good little dharma sessions.”
  2. Do my yoga with people. This idea challenges and inspires me so much that I’m thinking about offering a class that includes a free-form practice component. To explore my own take on Freedom Yoga.

I highly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in developing their own yoga practice.

Park Gym Mandala

Park Gym
Photo courtesy of Bodybuilding.com

So I recently discovered this amazing park gym in Boise, Idaho…

The Bodybuilding.com Park Gym at Ann Morrison Park is made up of 15 pieces of durable new fitness equipment installed on a 1,400-square-foot pad. Use of the equipment, which is accessible year round, is free to the public.

If you’re not sure how to use all of the pieces of equipment, you can follow the detailed, step-by-step instructions that are posted at the entrance. (Self Teacher Training note: you can also devise your own ways to use the equipment.) 

I’ve seen outdoor gyms before, but I really liked this one because it’s circular and because it’s designated for adults and children (14+). Why is this so awesome? Outdoor training season has officially started, so it’s probably a good time to discuss a common stereotype about adults using playgrounds. 

During the warm months I like to practice in parks and playgrounds. They’re great for Mind Body Parkour and exercising in nature does wonders for the spirit. Most of the adults are enjoying time with their children and my interactions with them are positive. But every once in a while I’ll encounter some resistance.

I could tell you stories…

There’s a fraction of the population that doesn’t support the idea of adults using playgrounds for exercise. I see this as being due in part to the a large number of Americans who’ve fallen prey to the Spectator Epidemic. Meaning, they tend to be passive observers about exercise which is a big problem in our culture. In this video of Chinese seniors, you’ll see that their culture is completely supportive of adults exercising in parks.

So I’m even more appreciative of parks that cater to adults who want to work out. When you consider that obesity rates in America are among the highest in the world, with two out of every three Americans being obese or overweight, it’s quite obvious that we have an exercise shortage in our country. According to Wikipedia:

Obesity has led to over 120,000 preventable deaths each year in the United States. An obese person in America is likely to incur $1,497 more in medical expenses annually. Approximately $190 billion is spent in added medical expenses per year within the United States. Obesity is a preventable condition that has been increasing within the United States. Health authorities anticipate no change to this vector.

What is needed in order to bring about this change is a shift to the public’s perception about integrating exercise with lifestyle. Television is the primary obstacle, as it breeds passivity and creates a mind-body disconnect. It also prevents many people from perceiving their homes as viable places for exercise.

A good starting point in beginning the process of lifestyle rehabilitation is to use your local park for routine exercise. It’s free and easy to access (for the most part). By doing this you’re helping yourself as well as helping to shift the collective consciousness.

Want to learn more about developing your own park gym routine? Book a FREE no-obligation consultation today.

The Spectator Epidemic

Mindless garbage spectator epidemic
Found on the Pinterest

Have you been to your local Walmart lately? Depending on where you live it can be a DISTURBING experience. I’m not saying this to be mean, I’m saying it because it’s true. There’s a cross section of middle America which borders on a zombie apocalypse. And it’s a real problem…

How did this happen? Diet is a big part, as well as the toxic cocktail of chemicals added to our food, water, air and medications. But it’s also related to social conditioning. Take a drive through your neighborhood one night and chances are you’ll see the flickering blue light of televisions emanating from people’s homes. Or maybe you’ll see groups of people at sporting events or playgrounds, where the adults are watching their kids exercise. Maybe you’ll see people at the gym. Maybe.

The Spectator Epidemic

Most likely you’ll find adults sitting at home watching television. It’s such an engrained part of our culture that no one really thinks anything of it. Television provides fuel for conversations – at work, the bar, and the dinner table. For many people television fulfills certain needs that are not being met in our modern day standard of living.

Part of this has to do with people being such visual creatures. When we watch dancers, martial artists or athletes, we experience something called the kinesthetic response. It’s a spontaneous reaction to a motion or stimulus that occurs outside of ourselves. The muscles contract and release in conjunction with the visual stimulation. So afterwards there’s a feeling of being energized or pleasantly fatigued.

Without actually having to do anything.

By and large, it’s much easier to be a spectator. Exercise can be challenging especially when the body is out of shape. Sitting around and talking about someone else exercising (did you see last night’s game?) is a piece of cake compared to actually doing it.

I’m not saying that you should never be a spectator. A good martial arts movie can be incredibly inspiring and hopefully you’ll do some kind of training afterwards. Playing video games or going to a sports event can also be great incentives – maybe you’ll feel really jacked afterwards. But if you don’t put that energy into your own life then what is the point?

Television addiction is an “undo-it-yourself” project that takes a little courage. Television breeds passivity so it takes time to shift gears. If you’re ready to become more of an active participant in your life a personal yoga practice can help.

Ready to take the next step? Book a FREE no-obligation consultation today.

Personal Retreat Reflections

Personal Retreat ReflectionsI’m on a personal retreat right now and have been diving into my practice. I’ve wanted to take an inner-teacher sabbatical during the holidays for years. I feel blessed to have an abundance of uninterrupted practice time. It puts me back into alignment with my own rhythms. And my inclination is to find ways to share this bounty with others. So here goes…

Winter is a time for hibernation.

The life-giving source of energy that comes from the sun is in short supply. Winter is also the season when apana, the downward current of energy is most prevalent. Apana is the force of energy that governs elimination in the body (excretion, urination, menstruation). Psychologically, it’s best described as a state of introversion. In nature it’s the force that draws sap down into the tree’s roots.

The holiday season presents an interesting counterbalance, which typically requires a great deal of output – emotionally, socially, financially, and physically. These cultural pressures don’t necessarily align with the laws of nature. Being extroverted can be very challenging when we’re disconnected from our natural rhythms. And with so much emphasis on externalization it’s easy to fall into the mental trap of thinking that we are not enough.

We might try to power through the season like a marathon runner but that’s a great way to make ourselves sick. Eating foods that we don’t typically eat, drinking excess amounts of alcohol and running around in the cold can take a significant toll on our physical health. Over stimulation and stress can make us feel like we’re wearing an invisible suit of armor.

While it is possible to cultivate energy through the holidays, it’s very important that we have enough gas in our tanks. So how to do this? Here are some simple suggestions of ways to practice “refilling your cup.”

  • Stay hydrated – drink plenty of room temperature, filtered water.  Add a little fresh lemon or lime juice if you have them on hand.
  • Eat the most beautiful food.
  • Be mindful of CATS (caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, sugar).
  • Turn off your television.
  • Avoid violent movies and fear-induced media hype.
  • Go outside and spend time in nature.
  • Don’t read the news when you’re eating.
  • Go to bed when you’re tired or take a nap.
  • Slow down.
  • Meditate. Light a candle or sit by a fireplace (the ultimate television).
  • Exercise. Move in ways that your body enjoys.
  • Breathe. A lot.
  • Relax in the sunshine.
  • Play, laugh, love.
  • Drink tea.
  • Sing your songs.

What are some other ways to nourish your spirit during this time of year? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.