Tuesday, January 22, 2013


My ranting and raving regarding the unique snowflake and deadweight children excuses aside, waking up early to do anything let alone practice can be very difficult.

Here are some strategies and tactics that might help.

8 Hours
Aim for 8 hours. Your specific amount will vary. But don't kid yourself that "you need less." You don't. Shoot for 9 hours every day of the week, see how you feel. (Probably great.) Quit kidding yourself that you can't do it. You're just fucking around on the Internet.

Sleep Cave
Create a sleep cave: cool and pitch black. Use a black-out curtain.

EMP Pulse
Almost all electronic screens use light towards the blue end of the spectrum. This will prevent quality sleep. Shut down your shit about an hour before you plan to hit the hay.

Create Ritual
Practice the "when," "where," and "how" it's time to wind down. Consistency is queen.

Strategies are well and good. Here are two specific tactics you can actually put in practice.

Alarm Distance
Set your alarm at a louder volume. Move your alarm --- it's probably your iPhone --- well away from your bed.

Clothes Horse
This is probably one of the single best tactics I have ever learned. 

It's based on the idea that humans are all cognitive misers, and have limited amounts willpower. 

The night before, pick out your yoga clothes and work clothes. Put them in a pile. 

When you wake up, your yoga clothes and work clothes are already selected for you. 

Take a shower, put them on, and get in your car. Coffee optional.

Monday, January 21, 2013


I know you love your child and/or children.

They're terrific, exciting, and interesting beings, who demand a lot of you.

However they are not anchors, mill-stones, or albatrosses around your neck.

They are not burdens, inflictions, or obstacles.

I have an 8-year-old daughter and (in less than 2 weeks) a newborn boy.

I could also bore you with the number of women who travel long distance, leaving their one or two children at home, in order to practice morning Mysore.

Every day.

These women, and my wife and I, and our countless friends, manage to practice daily because this  is important enough to us to get it done.

However, I know first-hand that it's difficult --- to juggle schedules, yours and your partners (if you have one), to get up that early, to perhaps even sacrifice a 2-hour practice for a shorter one ---

It takes effort and determination.

This effort and determination can only rest on passion for this style of practice.

If you don't have the spark, you don't have the spark.

So quit short-changing your kids.

We're both adults here. We can both recognize a bullshit excuse when we hear one.

Just say, "Meh --- I'm just not that into it."


Friday, January 18, 2013


Listen, I know your mother told you that you were a delicate and unique snowflake.

But you're not.

Let me back up.

I understand that waking up at 5 a.m. (or earlier) to practice Yoga seems outlandish, extreme, or perhaps just uncomfortable.

But you are not "not a morning person."

We are tied to the earth's cycle of day/night by millions of years of evolution, also known as our  circadian rhythm.

Your DNA still thinks it's 2 billion years ago, and therefore you --- yes you --- thrive best when you see the sun rise (this suppresses melatonin) and set (this boosts it).

However, what I do understand is that you have developed over many years the habit of staying up late for TV, movies, email, Facebook, or conversation.

You also consume caffeine and sugar and other stimulants.

I also understand that waking up early is uncomfortable, and can be difficult and challenging.

You stay up late because you've never had the reason or impetus to develop the discipline to get up early. You've trained yourself to not wake up early.

Point being, we're both adults here, so please let's skip the "I'm not a morning person" bullshit. We can both recognize it as the excuse it is.

Look, I get it. I did this practice at 7 a.m. daily for more than 10 years (a habit I've now given up due to teaching; please note that I also choose not to practice at 4 a.m.)

Waking up that early means going to be a bit earlier, drinking a bit less booze, perhaps watching the night-time food intake a little bit, shutting down the computer at a certain point, saying goodbye to friends --- it means, in effect, getting your shit in order.

This is tough, and like I said, I get it. 

It may just be that Ashtanga is not enough to spark the flame in you to look at and perhaps change these habits.

This is absolutely fine! You're just not that into it! There is nothing wrong with this.

So in the future, please just say, "I'm just not interested in morning Ashtanga enough to change my habits."

Or "I'm just not that into it."

Stay tuned for the next installment, The Kid Speech.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Here are a couple books I've read in the last year that I've liked.

This is mostly yoga-related, and excludes my other reading, which includes, non-fiction, comic books, graphic novels, and genre fiction (which typically includes literary fiction, science fiction, mysteries, fantasy, and pulp).

Awake in the World
Michael Stone
I really liked this one. Speaks directly to the experience of the Hatha Yogi without being obnoxiously Buddhist.

Yoga and the Luminous
Christopher Chapple
Yo Chapple dawg, you picked seriously the worst cover for your book in the world. My hyperbole aside, this is one of my favorite books on the Yoga Sutras. You can read it straight through, or essay by essay. It includes background on the historical and social context of the Sutras, as well as discusses thematic developments. It also includes a line-by-line translation.

The Yoga Body
Mark Singleton
A great exploration of the social and historical development of posture-related Yoga practice.

Yoga in Practice (ed.); Tantra in Practice (ed.); Sinister Yogis; The Alchemical Body
I read a lot of David Gordon White books last year. They're dense but rewarding. Sinister Yogis,
Samuel's The Origins of Yoga and Tantra, and Singleton's book present a compelling story of the development of contemporary Western Yoga practices.

A History of Modern Yoga: PataƱjali and Western Esotericism
Elizabeth De Michelis
Maybe too academic for the casual reader, still a very compelling look at specifically how the story of Patanjali and the Sutras have been and continue to be retold.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Chip Hartranfft
Another of the most compelling and readable versions of the Sutras; from a more Buddhist perspective.

Bhagavad Gita
J.A.B. van Buitenen
Van Buitenen's version is one of my favorites because he renders the text in prose form, which really let me trace the thematic and tonal shifts and developments, which for me was a bit harder to absorb in standard verse form.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


En route to coffee with Bill this morning, we walked past this huge poster in the window of Powell's Books (the biggest and best bookstore in the U.S. ... perhaps the world?).

It's pretty dope. Also, the fine print reads "peer-reviewed."

Though I wonder if they have to strike off Anusara? (Okay, that was a cheap shot.)

I found more info at theyogaposter.com.

Monday, January 7, 2013


I lingered at LAX for many hours on Christmas Eve. Inspired by Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Bed of Procrustes, I wrote a bunch of Ashtanga-related aphorisms.

According to Taleb, "a good maxim should 1) surprise you, 2) be true, and 3) be symmetric (one assertion, one negation) or rhythmic."

Strength: first series builds it, second expresses it, third makes it redundant.

Practicing a certain way "because it's how my teacher does it" is the same as eating the menu.

Be wary of the teacher who hits on his students. Also be wary of the teacher who does not.

To become overly fascinated with the asana series is to become obsessed with the pill capsule or the syringe, or better yet, the ice-cream scoop or the chocolate wrapper.

If you want to turn someone on to Ashtanga Yoga, show her first series. If you want to turn her off, second. (After Taleb.)

A Mysore ashtanga teacher should prize consistency, humor, and flatulence. 

When looking for a teacher, avoid the bureaucrat, the technician, and the acolyte. Better the poet, the artist, the dancer. (After Brooks).

Nowhere does Patanjali mention embracing poverty, yet Ashtanga teachers act as if it's the ninth limb.

Talking about "your practice" is the only sin worse than not practicing.

Symptoms of a Guru Problem: when the Guru is the only person you're more afraid of contradicting than yourself.

The right question to ask the Guru is the one that makes you the most afraid.

If you fear conversation with your Teacher, he is not your Teacher.

Patanjali suggests to avoid future suffering; he was talking about lunch with Ashtangis — back pain, asana talk, Mysore gossip.

Avoid the yogini who tells you she is a yogini.

A Mysore teacher can be a friend or a teacher. Choose both, or neither, never just one.