Sunday, February 24, 2008

Obama or Clinton, Who Has the Better Warrior Posture?

"It's ... an invitation for him to step into the ring. If he takes a defensive position, if she strikes at him and if he strikes back, ... she has an advantage there, because she is better positioned to be in that warrior pose. That's something that he's not always comfortable with."

There you have it. Hers is the better warrior pose. He, well, he's not so comfortable in that posture.

Those are the words of Michelle Norris, a host on the NPR news program All Things Considered. She made those remarks this morning on the NBC show Meet the Press.

The "he" to whom she refers is Sen. Barack Obama. "She" is Sen. Hillary Clinton. Both are seeking the nomination of the Democrat party to be President of the United States.

Norris, Tim Russert, Chuck Todd, and the other commentators on the show were talking about the recent Clinton charge against Obama that he is a plagiarist, that he steals the most effective lines he uses on the campaign trail.

Russert, the host of Meet the Press, showed a variety of video clips and quotes that proved that seemingly all who run for high office borrow heavily from the phrases and patterns of speech of others who have run before them. Even Hillary borrows from Bill Clinton's old stump speeches.

So why is the Clinton camp pointing the finger at Obama when both use others' words? Norris and Todd say it's because she was trying to draw him out.

It's a taunt. She's goading him into a fight, a war, that she thinks she can win.

Norris went on to say that as long as he acts authentically, in fidelity with his true nature, Sen. Obama seems to attract more support for his candidacy. By attacking his ego and portraying him as a cheater, others hope to draw him into playing an adopted role and then defeat him at the game of putting on the best persona. "To thine own self be true," comes to mind.

There's another layer of irony here, too. It's the job for which they're running. President of the United States of America. Commander in Chief.

A major role of the President is that of top military commander. The President is the supreme warrior, and commander of warriors, in the United States.

It might seem that picking a fight proves your credentials, your readiness to lead in battle. Conversely, backing down from a fight might indicate that you're not ready to "assume the position" of top military leader.

Obama addressed that in a recent debate. He said that in opposing the war in Iraq he "showed the judgment of a commander in chief."

Could it be that the greatest military leader is the one who is most reluctant to engage in violent war-making? Maybe his warrior position is better after all.

Non-harming (ahimsa) is an imperative in Patanjali's classical system of yoga (Raja Yoga). I live in a world so permeated with violence, I honestly have difficulty imagining total compliance with Patanjali's code. And defending oneself or others from violent attacks adds to the complications. But I can at least envision ahimsa and apply it when I practice yoga poses.

This Daily Yoga Tip is not an endorsement of any candidate. Nor am I rooting for a favorite. I don't know who among those left in the race for President is best suited for the job. Maybe it's neither of these two.

But if you're going to practice a warrior pose, or any pose, you can apply some of the guidance that can be seen in these comments:
1) Don't be tempted to do your yoga practice in a way that's harmful. It's usually your ego that taunts you. Do no harm.
2) Let your practice help you remember your true nature. The more you practice, the more likely you are to achieve the state of yoga, a state in which you can see and abide in who you really are.
One writer says it like this:
Once the obstacles and false identities have been temporarily set aside, the true Self, which has been there all along, naturally comes shining through. The rest of the time, we are so entangled with our false identities that we literally do not see that this misidentification has happened.
Stick to your guns. And look for the fruit of your practice, the realization of the true you.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it.
Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was sukha. Sukha means easy as in sukhasana, the easy pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is ustra. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., Our Sanskrit Experience workshop in St. Charles, Missouri is coming up soon. If you'd like to join us for this 4-hour fun-filled experience of the Sanskrit names of yoga poses, sign up here. Every participant receives a 120-page course guide. We'll be at Jane's House of Wellbeing on Saturday March 15th at noon. Tuition is $65.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 680-6737

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Full Moon Obscured

When I teach the Experience Sanskrit workshop, I usually tell people they'll know they're starting to catch on to the meaning of the Sanskrit word roots when someone in the room cracks a Sanskrit joke and everyone laughs.

Someone usually gets this rolling by blurting out a funny new name for a pose that everybody knows.

I like to use what I call opposing pairs as one mnemonic tool to help me strongly associate a Sanskrit word with its meaning.

For example, I know there's a pose called downward facing dog pose, adho mukha svanasana. If someone thought to name this pose downward facing dog pose, then surely there must be an upward facing dog pose, right? Of course. It's urdhva mukha svanasana.

Just knowing these two opposites exist, I can scratch my head a little bit and apply the half of the equation I know and often figure out the other pose name or part of the pose name that I don't know...yet.

There's arha navasana, a half boat pose. So surely there must be a full boat pose. Of course, there is. It's paripurna navasana.

But this scheme isn't perfect. It starts to break down. If there's an adho mukha vrksasana, downward facing tree pose (most of us call this a handstand or full arm balance), there must also be an urdhva mukha vrksasana, upward facing tree pose. I'm sorry to report that there is no upward facing tree pose, there's only tree pose, vrksasana.

Similarly, if there's a half moon pose, ardha chandrasana, there must be a paripurna chandrasana, too!

This is the point at which someone says, "Wait! There is a full moon!" Then we watch as our yogi stands up, faces away from the group and then bends over in uttanasana, giving everyone the full moon.

I've done a lot of deep probing research for this message today. I've found that, according to Wikipedia, mooning is:
the act of displaying one's bare buttocks by removing clothing, e.g. by lowering the back side of one's trousers and underpants, usually bending over.... Mooning is used in some cultures to express protest, scorn, disrespect or provocation but can simply be done for shock value or fun.
I mean no scorn or disrespect by my Tip today. But I do intend it for shock value and fun, because shock and fun make things memorable. Hopefully, after reading this, you'll never forget the Sanskrit word for moon again. It's chandra.

Since mooning is done with a bare bottom, I will not post a picture with the Daily Yoga Tip of the "full moon pose," paripurna chandrasana. But I will provide a photo a some full moon poses, the full effects of which are thankfully obscured by clothing.


It's very cold here in Missouri as I write this message tonight. But that hasn't kept me from running out on my back porch every 10 minutes for the last hour to view the beautiful and rare eclipse of the full moon. It's fabulous. We won't see another one until 2010.


If you haven't figured it out by now, that's the inspiration for today's Daily Yoga Tip.

I'll sum it all up for you: let the beauty and awe of the natural world inspire your yoga practice; and enjoy it--have fun!

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was parsva. Parsva means flank or side as in parsvottanasana, the intense stretch to the side pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is sukha. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., If today's Daily Yoga Tip is too weird for you, it might be because the full moon has strange effects on people, myself included. (One of my favorite movies, which I watch over and over again, is Moonstruck.) For a more serious Daily Yoga Tip on moons and moon poses, read One Small Step on TV, One Giant Leap in My Cubicle, a message I wrote in July, 2005.

p.p.p.p.s., Did you notice in that picture above that those three yoginis were making use of one of the most widely known and popular yoga aids of modern times? Twister. What a game! I haven't seen one of those game mats in years. Which, I might add, is like most yoga "aids." You buy it. You use it for while. And then you lose it in the bottom of your closet for a decade or two.

p.p.p.p.p.s., Our Sanskrit Experience workshop in St. Charles, MO is filling up. If you'd like to be with us, and we hope you will, for this 4-hour jam-packed experience of the Sanskrit names of yoga poses, sign up right away here. Tuition is $65. Every participant receives a 120-page course guide. We'll be at Jane's House of Wellbeing on Saturday March 15th at noon. See you there.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 680-6737

Saturday, February 16, 2008

An Ounce of Practice

Today my Daily Yoga Tip is short and sweet.

In fact, it's not even my Yoga Tip.

It's attributed to Sri Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh in the Himalayas. In the opening pages of his pamphlet Sadhana Tattwa he wrote:
An ounce of practice is worth tons of theory.
I don't want to add much more to what he said. I hope you pick up this underlying theme in nearly every message I write.

Reading another person's words about the practice of yoga can communicate much. Understanding those words can motivate you and even alter your perspective. But reading about yoga and understanding some concepts related to yoga are not anything like doing yoga.

Try it.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was hala. Hala means plow as in halasana, the plow pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is parsva. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., Congratulations to Nancy Tuccillo (Georgia), Maxine Mirowitz (Missouri), Heather Klaus (Germany), and Mary Ellen Troy (Michigan) for quickly and correctly translating utthita ashwa sanchalanasana. Each will receive a copy of Yoga for Teens Card Deck by Mary Kaye Chryssicas. Utthita means extended. Ashwa means horse. Sanchalana has many meanings. Generally, you can take sanchalana to mean movement, stepping or cycling. Asana means pose or seat. The literal English translation is extended horse movement pose. Some people call it the extended equestrian pose.

p.p.p.p.s., By they way, if you enjoy snooping around on the search engines, you might like to try to get to the bottom of this. I found that the "ounce of practice is worth tons of theory" quote has been attributed to others besides Swami Sivananda. Some attribute it to E.F. Schumacher, an economist who wrote Small is Beautiful, which I am now tempted to read. The same phrase is also attributed to Paramahansa Hariharananda. It's even been attributed to John Dewey (Democracy and Education, 1916), Gandhi, and Friedrich Engels, who co-authored The Communist Manifesto. Let me know if you get this sorted out.

p.p.p.p.p.s., I've included a picture of a rishi here so you can see what his hair looks like. Rishi means sage. Kesh means hair.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737

Friday, February 15, 2008

Push Me Pull You Shoulders

This is probably way too much information than you really need to get by in life. But I have this odd recollection from my childhood of watching an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies in which a wealthy cigar-chomping oilman from Texas pulls up in front of Mr. Drysdale's bank in a Cadillac convertible sporting a longhorn steer hood ornament.

I don't know why such nonsense persists in my memory decades later, but it does. Maybe it was Jethro's excited response to seeing such a big-spirited display of ostentatiousness.

I also don't know why this happens, but when I see most people do the pose chaturanga dandasana I think of steer horns, especially the set of longhorns I remember from that TV show.

Chaturanga dandasana is a challenging pose. Especially when folks are tired, they let their shoulders sag toward the ground so that their upper arms are no longer parallel to the floor.



The look of the elbows high in the air and the roundness of the upper back conjures up the image in my mind of those long forward-curving steer horns.



As funny as this may seem, I'm mentioning it to you today because it's dangerous. It's harmful. You can do some debilitating damage to your rotator cuffs if you persist in taking the easy way out by hanging in this sagging shoulder shape.

Some people would question whether you should do the pose at all if it's so risky. Not me. Do the pose. It's worth it. But do it in a way that keeps the shoulder girdle injury free and open to the flow of life-giving healing energy, prana.

The folks at DK Children were kind enough to send along a copy of their Yoga for Teens Card Deck for me to review. One of the first things I noticed about this nicely prepared aid for young yogis is that the the model demonstrating chaturanga dandasana displayed nice arm and shoulder alignment. No steer horns.

Wouldn't it be a shame to take a group of young yogis (or any yogis for that matter) and show them how to do the pose in a way that hurts?

Bravo to the author, Mary Kaye Chryssicas!

How can you keep your rotator cuffs out of the sick ward while still doing this pose? You've got to distinguish movement from action and then implement the action that does the job.

For chaturanga, the movement is lowering yourself down from the push-up position into that four-legged staff position in which you appear to be hovering a few inches from the floor.

The injury-avoiding action is challenging because it takes your upper arm bones in the opposite direction of the movement. Your body is lowering toward the floor, but at the same time your upper arm bones are drawn toward the ceiling by muscular action.

[That's why I named this Daily Yoga Tip 'Push Me Pull You Shoulders'. Your torso is heading in one direction, while the heads of your upper arm bones are drawn in the other.]

I wrote a Daily Yoga Tip about this upper arm action back in 2005. It's called Relief From Rotator Cuff Pain. You can read it here. I recommend it if your shoulders hurt or if you steerhorn your shoulders in chaturanga dandasana.

I also recommend that you get the hang of this action while practicing wall push-ups (with the upper arms back and a noticeable trough between your shoulder blades), before you bear all of your body weight in chaturanga dandasana.

You'll be well on your way. And you'll look like the model in the card deck. Her upper arms are parallel to the floor and there's a hollow cleft between her shoulder blades.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was sirsa. Sirsa means head as in sirsasana, the head pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is hala. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., Visit www.experienceyoga.org to lean more about the Experience Sanskrit workshop in Saint Charles, Missouri. We'll be Robin Buck's guests at Jane's House of Wellbeing, Saturday, March 15 at 12:00 noon. Register here.

p.p.p.p.s., I didn't know I'd still be receiving your translations of utthita ashwa sanchalanasana, but I am. So I am going to wait one more day to announce the lucky winners.

p.p.p.p.p.s., Some of you may not know that it is no longer correct to refer to Jethro and Elly May as Hillbillies. I live in Missouri. I should know, right? I am informed that the proper term is 'Ozark Americans.'

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Discipline of Love

Today is Valentine's Day. It's the day you offer special heartfelt expressions of love to your beloved, or your wanna-be beloved.

I heard the former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser say on the radio today that Valentine's Day is the poet's holiday. "It's not tied up with anything but expressions of sentiment," he said. "Nice," I say.

The icon of Valentine's Day is Cupid, the god of romantic love and beauty in Roman mythology. I don't even have to describe him to you. You know how he's portrayed.

But did you know the description of Cupid is nearly the same as that of the Hindu deity Kama, or more precisely, Kamadeva?

Kama is the Hindu god of love and desire.

Remember the story I passed along a few days ago about Shiva and his ashes?

Kama played a key role in that story that I haven't told you yet.

When Shiva's consort Sati died by suicide, she went in to a deep meditation. By the power of her practice she was brought back to life in the form of Parvati. In that form she sought to win again the affection of Shiva.

But Shiva was in deep meditation and took no notice of Parvati whatsoever.

Kama came to the rescue and shot Shiva with a flower tipped arrow, launched from his bow made of sugar cane.

The story goes that Shiva, annoyed by Kama's arrow, opened his third eye and destroyed Kama with a single fiery glance.

This is a powerful reminder that desire, the cause of much suffering, can be burned up through yogic practices.

Some versions of the story say that those ashes that cover Shiva's body are the ashes of desire that remained after Kama was consumed by fire.

There's more to this story. Suffice it to say, a little desire is needed to motivate some good things in life. Infertility is not good. So Kama was eventually brought back. But I'll save that story for another day.

In my studies, I've read a lot of sutras. Sutras are threads. They are collections of brief aphorisms strung together so they can be memorized and retained.

I've read the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. I've read the Shiva Sutra. I've read a few more sutras, too.

But until today, I had never read the Kama Sutra. Despite its seeming popularity, I just never got around to it.

I didn't finish it today. And I doubt I'll go back and study it. But I learned this from my brief review of the Kama Sutra today: Mallanaga Vatsyayana, the author of the Kama Sutra, wasn't fooling around when it comes to making love. He and the sources he relied on took it on as a serious discipline, one that is worthy of analysis, exploration, practice and devotion.

Loving, it is clear in his writing, is a matter of mastery. It's an endeavor deserving of meticulous attention to detail and dedicated action.

Wouldn't we all be better off if we took something that really mattered and seriously devoted ourselves to daily discipline and fervent action, carried out for a long time? We would.

I know just the discipline. I suggest yoga. If not that, love expressed through self-less service.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was sarvanga. Sarvanga means all of the limbs or the whole body as in parsvaikapada sarvangasana, the one leg to the side whole body pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is sirsa. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., Don't miss the next Experience Sanskrit workshop, the fun and unforgettable way to learn and remember the Sanskrit names of the yoga poses you already practice. Sallie Keeney and I are offering this workshop in Saint Charles, Missouri at Jane's House of Wellbeing, Saturday, March 15 at 12:00 noon. Visit www.experienceyoga.org to lean more. Register here.

p.p.p.p.s., Thank you to all of you who sent in your translations of utthita ashwa sanchalanasana. I received some great submissions. I'll announce the winners tomorrow, each of whom will receive from DK Children, a copy of the Yoga for Teens Card Deck. You inspire me.

p.p.p.p.p.s., It would be an absolute shame to refer to Ted Kooser's Valentine poems without giving you one to read. So here goes:

The Celery Heart
CELERY HEARTS: 98 CENTS

—Placard at Hinky Dinky

Surely it misses those long fly balls of light
its leaves once leapt to catch, or longs to run
its roots out into the salty darkness.

What once looked like a Roman fountain
is now a ruin of fallen columns
bedded on ice. Its only consolations are,

at regular intervals, the hiss of mist,
and at times the warm and reassuring squeeze
of passing hand. But better this, by far,

than to be the sullen heart of artichoke,
stripped of its knives and heavy armor
and mummified for eons in a jar of brine.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Craning Your Neck in Monkey Pose

I've had sun salutes (surya namaskar) on my mind, ever since a local group of yogis got together a couple weeks ago to do 108 of them for a fund raiser.

So when I read this today, I immediately thought of banarasana, the monkey pose, known to some as a high lunge:
"The more extension there is in the thoracic spine, the less there will have to be in the cervical and lumbar spine."
That's a quote from Leslie Kaminoff's recent book Yoga Anatomy (2007, Human Kinetics). He wasn't even talking about the monkey pose, the lunge that's in the middle of every sun salute (at least the version I practice).

But his remark made me think of what I often see when I look out across a room full of lungers. I see quite rounded backs with heads hanging down. This curved shape in the upper spine is called kyphosis.

Since there are some serious structural deformities that are also called kyphosis, it's not uncommon to refer to this more temporary exaggeration of the thoracic curve as 'postural kyphosis.'

You don't have to be a whiz-bang physiologist to know that if you maintain this position very long its hard to breathe, and you compress your thoracic and abdominal organs. You'd be better off with a long, neutral spine.

Kaminoff calls this "axial extension." I like that term.

When I see this, I ask my students to come up on the finger tips and stretch the heart away from the navel.

But here's what happens a lot. The skin and clothing on the front of the torso are caught. They're trapped in contact with the front thigh. So it's not uncommon to see very little axial extension. What commonly happens is the head gets lifted up and now I see my students craning their necks.

They look just like those bicyclists who's backs are very rounded to reduce wind drag, but can only see where they're going if they lift their heads and jut their throats forward, like a crane.

A few days ago I wrote about low back troubles. I mentioned that the lumbar spine and the cervical spine (the low back and the neck) don't have much support around them, so they tend to bend too much in back-bending poses.

That's what's happening here.

Since there's very little extension in the thoracic spine, the cervical spine, the neck, must bend to an extreme.

The neck is craned and pained. Ouch.

So here's my tip of the day. Take Mr. Kaminoff's advice. Don't damage your neck in every lunge of every sun salute. Extend the thoracic spine.

The more you stretch your breastbone away from your belly button, the less your neck has to take a beating by either drooping down, or craning.

Align your neck so that it's an extension of the rest of your spine. It's most easily done by freeing up the skin on the torso and side chest so you can lengthen through the upper back. Then you can see what's out ahead of you without "crunching" your neck.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was pada. Pada means foot or leg as in utthita hasta padangusthasana, the extend-a-hand-and-and-grab-the-big-toe-on-the-end-of-the-leg pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is sarvanga. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., We'll be bringing the next Experience Sanskrit workshop to Saint Charles, Missouri in just one month. Join us at Jane's House of Wellbeing, Saturday, March 15 at 12:00 noon. Register here. Visit www.experienceyoga.org to lean more about the Experience Sanskrit workshop. It's the fun and unforgettable way to learn the Sanskrit names of yoga poses.

p.p.p.p.s., While I was searching around on the web for a picture of a lunge, I found a name for the high lunge pose that I had never seen before. Here goes: utthita ashwa sanchalanasana. DK Children, the publisher of the Yoga for Teens Card Deck, has sent me several copies of this great home study aid to review. I'll give away the card decks I have to the first among you who email me with a literal English translation of the Sanskrit name of the pose.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Bhasma to Bhasma

Look around today and you might see some of your friends going about their daily routine with a smudge of ashes (bhasma) on their foreheads.

For the Christian Church, today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent is a period of self-imposed austerity, during which people give up good things they enjoy. They abstain, in order to prepare themselves spiritually for Easter and for the rest of the year.

During the liturgy when the priest applies the ashes, he says, "Remember man that you are dust and to dust you shall return."

Dust and ashes applied to the body have always represented death and rebirth, transformation. As much as we struggle to protect life and avoid death, it is still good, regardless of your religious persuasion, to regularly consider death.

It will happen. It is not to be avoided. And disciplining ourselves to face our ultimate fate sets things in perspective and can give us courage.

We don't see much ascetic practice like this in American culture. So today might be a good day to take note of this behavior, even if you're not an observer of Lent.

Shiva, the originator of hatha yoga, is almost always depicted with his body covered in ashes. He is known as the god of destruction and transformation, the head of the Hindu trimurti, or trinity.

He sets the standard for out of the ordinary behavior. He lives in the woods and doesn't wear clothes. His hair is matted and tangled and piled on top of his head. But most of all, he is known for living outside the ordinary religious behaviors and mores of his time. He wasn't much for fitting in with the great Brahmin rituals, feasts and observances.

And that's what caused one of the troubles for which he is well known.

His father in law, Daksha, was a Brahmin priest. And since Shiva was such a non-conformist, he didn't invite his daughter and her husband to the great sacrifice.

She was humiliated. Unconsoled, she threw herself into the sacrificial fire and died.

Shiva in the form of Nataraj, the Lord of the Dance, came to the sacrifice and danced the tandava, the dance of destruction.

It was horrible. It was terrible. But it produced change. (In the end there was a reconciliation between the orderly, ritual-dominated religious form and asceticism.)

Shiva is the great liberator who breaks down everything, thus releasing energy for new growth. At times we need to be broken down, or upset ourselves on purpose, deny our egos the pleasures they crave, to release energy for growth.

In India, there are still holy men and women who imitate Shiva, even his most shocking characteristics. They are known as Sadhus. Dolf Harsuiker says this about these holy people:
In their pursuit of the 'inner light', the liberation from all earthly bonds, the 'knowledge' of the Absolute, they have chosen the way of asceticism and yoga. This implies a systematic 'reprogramming' of the body and mind by various methods, such as celibacy, renunciation, religious discipline, meditation and austerities. The general term with which these methods are designated is sadhana, literally 'the means of achieving a particular goal', from which the word Sadhu is derived.
I like what he says. You can literally reprogram your body and mind with practices you do and the intentions that motivate them.

Today when you see someone with ashes on his forehead. Take a moment to consider death and the possibility of great transformation.

Even if someone's looking, stand there, like that odd-ball Shiva, and pick one foot up off the floor. Grab your ankle behind you with one hand and raise the other arm. There you are in the simplest form of the pose natarajasana, the pose dedicated to the Lord of the Dance, the destroyer, Shiva, the emblem of transformation.

May yoga bring you the transformation you desire.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was setu. Setu means bridge as in setu bhanda sarvangasana, the bridge pose. Setu bhanda sarvangasana literally means to construct a bridge with your whole body pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is pada. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., The Experience Sanskrit workshop is a very fun, lively and exciting way to learn and remember the Sanskrit names of the yoga poses you do every day. We're offering it next in Saint Charles, Missouri at Jane's House of Wellbeing. Register here. Visit www.experienceyoga.org to learn more. Even if you cannot participate, will you please tell your friends about this great opportunity?

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737

Monday, February 04, 2008

Low Back Troubles

If you Google the phrase "yoga injury" like I just did, you'll find the search engine comes up with over 500,000 hits in less than a second.

This seems to me to be a media trend these days: write as much as you can about how you can get hurt doing yoga. I believe there's a solution to this. But I'll get to that later in this Daily Yoga Tip.

I want to zero in on a very particular type of pain--low back pain. If you ignore this pain, it can lead to injury.

A room full of us got together on Saturday morning to do 108 sun salutations as a fund-raiser for the Show Me Yoga Education Foundation. Afterwards, one student asked my why his low back hurt.

The simple answer is back bending.

Somewhere right in the middle of every surya namaskar is a back bend. Depending on your practice preference, you might be doing upward facing dog pose, cobra pose, or a variation I call baby cobra (or sometimes no-arms cobra).

Our spines are pretty amazing. They come built with four normal, natural curves that you can see when you look at someone from the side.

Every other curve goes in the opposite direction. I'm told this makes the spine more springy and therefore able to handle great forces.


The curve in your torso (thoracic curve) is concave on the front. Likewise, the curve at the tail end of your spine (sacral curve) is concave on the front. Your neck curve (cervical curve) and low back curve (lumbar curve) are both concave on the back.

Most important to this discussion is the amount of bony structure around each segment of the spine. The thoracic spine is surrounded by the rib cage. The sacral spine is completely surrounded by the bones of the pelvis.

But your neck, the cervical spine, well its surrounded by nothing. And the lumbar spine is surrounded only by soft tissue and organs--no bony structures.

So when you bend backwards, these two parts of the spine typically end up with a greater curve than the thoracic and sacral segments of the spine.

Without a little conscious attention and effort on your part, back bends will make the vertebrae, particularly the back part of the vertebrae, in these two parts of the spine compress together. And that hurts.

Low back pain and neck pain are two big complaints I hear from students doing back bends.

What is there to be done about my student's low back pain?

1) Progress steadily. Don't start with 108 back bends. Make progress over time by starting with and practicing less challenging back bends. After you've accomplished some degree of body control in the tips I'm about to give you, move forward and practice those same actions in more difficult poses.

2) It's counterintuitive, but you need to get better at tucking your tail bone under when you do back bends. (You don't need to pinch your buttocks together to do it.) This tucking action will create space between the lumbar vertebrae and pain will disappear. You'll also avoid injuries like the ones I referred to at the beginning of this Daily Yoga Tip.

3) Develop stronger abdominal muscles and better abdominal control. One way to do this is to practice back bending poses, tuck your tailbone, and progress steadily from easier to more difficult poses. (I'll write a later Daily Yoga Tip about other things you can do to strengthen the abs.)

Bending backward is such a gift. It can be your pathway to a young and healthy spine. Some people say: "You're only as young as your spine is flexible." With these actions, you can develop better back bending ability and avoid pain in the low back.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was surya. Surya means sun as in surya namaskar, the sun salutation.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is setu. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., Please join us for the next Experience Sanskrit workshop in Saint Charles, Missouri. Thanks to our hosts at Jane's House of Wellbeing, we'll be offering the Experience Sanskrit workshop again on Saturday, March 15 at 12:00 noon. Register here. Visit www.experienceyoga.org to lean more about the Experience Sanskrit workshop, the fun and unforgettable way to learn the Sanskrit names of yoga poses.

p.p.p.p.s., How can you avoid injuries in yoga? I mentioned above that I think there's a way. First find a teacher who will work with you interactively and teach you progressively over time. And then practice with dedication, without interruption, for a long time.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Active Inactivity

Today is Superbowl Sunday. And Tuesday is Super Tuesday. The big winners in these contests are no doubt going to make an even bigger splash in the media and in our awareness than the communication tidal waves that are already crashing in on us.

My splash won't be nearly as big. But I declare that today is a glorious day to start the Daily Yoga Tip again. (Thank you to you super students who have given me much encouragement throughout the past year, during which I was not writing.)

I'll use the National Football League as my inspiration today. There must be some symmetry in that since the last Daily Yoga Tip I wrote was about football, too.

This morning I saw an NFL-sponsored public service announcement for www.SmallStep.com. It was an ad featuring football stars encouraging young people to be physically active.

The opening line in the ad shows a referee throwing a penalty flag and announcing the infraction:
Personal foul! Inactive activities on a glorious day!
This oxymoron got my attention. I tend to react, indeed over-react, to this sort of illogical talk in advertising and common speech.

After I settled down, it occurred to me that it's simply a word problem that got me excited. It's not a real problem. I was able to see that we really do participate in many enriching and edifying endeavors ("activities") that aren't physically active at all. So it just sounds silly.

The joke is on me, really. I'm a yoga teacher. Yet I often miss the obvious point that the very meaning of the word yoga is "to integrate opposites." Yoga by its very name celebrates, affirms and even calls us to embrace irony and internal inconsistency.



A great example of this is savasana, the corpse pose. It's the final pose in nearly every yoga practice session. My most valued experiences in the pose are the refreshing feeling of deep physical relaxation, coupled with the satisfying gift of pure stillness.

When I first started practicing yoga, I would lie down for savasana and my sense of physical release was so deep I would drift off to sleep. You might call this inactive inactivity. While it was restful and refreshing, it also made me dull.

As I became more practiced, the irony emerged more clearly. Stillness made me more sensitive and more aware. While lying in corpse pose I was alert and actively perceiving the physical world (sensations, sounds, smells) as well as insights, memories, ideas and images. I was definitely not asleep.

To an observer, I looked just like the posture's name. I appeared to be dead. But the corpse pose had become active inactivity for me. I was still. But there was a lot going on. And the result was not dullness, but calming and enlivening.

Words and ideas are powerful things. But they sometimes get in the way. We really can experience the true reality of what sounds like incongruity. Here's to you and your experience of super savasana.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was pincha. Pincha means tail feathers as in pincha mayurasana, the tail feathers of a peacock pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is surya. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., There are only a few weeks left to enroll in our next Experience Sanskrit workshop in Saint Charles, Missouri. Sallie and I will be at Jane's House of Wellbeing on Saturday, March 15 at 12:00 noon. Register here today. We'd love to meet you there.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Welcome to Yoga

I sat in the sauna earlier today and read a several week-old copy of Sports Illustrated. Most of the stories were about the opening of the NFL season. The lead article was called Welcome to the NFL.

The writer described the nearly universal experience of the rookie who is knocked over, and nearly knocked out, by a bigger, more experienced veteran. The elder, grinning, knowing the impact of what just happened, says to the new guy, "Welcome to the NFL."

It's an unwritten initiation rite that's probably been around since leather helmets, or no helmets at all.

I've never played in the NFL, but in the summer 1979 I finished high school in my home town in Nebraska and weeks later began a new life in Colorado as an Air Force Academy Cadet and an Air Force Falcon, an offensive guard on a Division One football team.

On probably my third day of team practice I took a forearm under the chin from a upper classman. He was also a guard, but bigger, stronger, and more experienced.

My feet left the ground. I landed on my back. The sky above was beautiful, as it was at least at some time nearly every afternoon at that altitude.

He didn't need to say it. I said it silently to myself, "Welcome to Division One football." It hurt.

The sports writer suggested that it was something unique to football. No one, after all, says welcome to tennis or welcome to track and field. I suppose he was suggesting that no other sport offers such a defining moment when you realize things ain't what they used to be.

I disagree.

I say "Welcome to Yoga" all the time. (I know. It's not a sport. But I still disagree with him.)

Usually when I teach a room full of mostly new-comers I can look out and see the tiredness and stress in their bodies. They're nervous, too, about the new experience.

I often welcome them to yoga with a pretty simple recipe you can try today:
1) I create a welcoming, attractive, and safe environment.
2) I ask them to lie down and close their eyes.
3) I talk to them with a steady pace and quiet pauses.
4) I invite them to pay attention to and relax parts of their bodies.
5) I help them pay attention to their bodies and the movement of their breaths.
6) Then I guide them through a simple stretch during which they make their bodies just a bit longer.
After that, they sit up. And they look different. They are different. I say, "Welcome to yoga."

This only takes about 5 or 6 minutes. But in that short time people can experience the effects of a practice that involves moving the body and paying attention.

It's like pushing the re-set button on life.

I ask them if they feel better. I ask them because I want them to notice.

It really doesn't take much time or skill or secret knowledge to experience a shift. Sometimes that can be as surprising as a forearm to the chin.

Some people like it and come back regularly for years. Others like it but don't make it back. Others don't see that they've made a shift and really don't know why they'd give it a go again. So I usually don't see them again.

If you're reading this, you're probably already interested in yoga. You've already tried it.

But check in right now, in this moment. How do you feel?

If you'd like to feel better try my recipe above. You can do it. Welcome to yoga, again.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was chatura. Chatura means four, as in chaturanga dandasana, the the four-limbed stick pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is pincha. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., I promised you last time I'd tell you the other yoga practice my physical therapist gave me. Here it is: he asked me to lift my knee caps up. He calls these "quad sets."

I'm sure I was asked to lift my knee caps in my very first yoga class. My yoga teacher wanted to me lift my knee caps to stabalize my knees in tadasana, mountain pose.

Brian, however asked me to lift my knee caps, repeatedly, because this pumping action reduces the swelling in my (post-surgical) knee. It clears out inflammation.

p.p.p.p.s., The Foundations of Teaching Yoga workshop on last month in Fulton, MO was a great success. What a wonderful group of yogis we spent the day with! Sallie and I thorougly enjoyed the day. And I know our teacher trainees did, too. Thanks to Sandy and the students at Natural Focus Yoga. I can't wait to conduct this workshop again.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737

Friday, September 22, 2006

Trust Your Knee to Tree

Physical therapy for my post-surgical knee began Saturday.

I received some wise words and instruction, for which I am grateful, from my PT guy, Brian.

Some of what he gave me is yoga. Here goes. This is what he said:
1) Let it heal. It's good that it's moving. But don't over-do it.

The doctors had their surgical tools moving around in there. So now it's got to heal.

He pointed to the three scabs on my knee skin and said, "Hey, see those? They haven't healed on the outside. You can be sure you're not done healing on the inside."

2) One of our big goals is to get the inflammation and swelling out of the knee joint. As long as it's there, tissue is irritated.

(I'll tell you in my next Daily Yoga Tip the "yoga" he wants me to practice to get this swelling gone. Yes, I mean in addition to the usual MICE - movement, ice, elevation, and compression.)

3) I was so proud of the fact that I could really bend my knee.

Brian burst my bubble, telling me the next big thing is not how well I can bend it, but whether I can straighten it--really straighten it.

He surprised me by demonstrating to me that I could not straighten my right leg as well as my left. That pesky culprit inflammation is the cause. See item 2 above.

4) Strengthen your leg muscles later. Big quads are beautiful, but for now, focus on propriorecptive exercises. "These will train your brain to trust your leg again," he said.
So what's involved in "proprioreceptive exercise" you ask?

Tree poses. That's right. Vrksasana.

He had me lift one foot off the ground and balance with my arms out to the sides for 15 seconds, once on each foot.

Then, instead of practicing with my arms out, he had me cross my arms in front of my chest and touch the opposite shoulder with my fingers. I held these for 15 more seconds, on each side.

Finally, the big kahuna. I did vrksasana, both sides, 15 seconds, with my eyes closed.

My foot wobbled and I could hear all sorts of popping and clicking. Apparently my brain hasn't been trusting my leg for quite a while.

I've known for a long time that tree pose is good for balance and strengthening legs. I've known it's good for avoiding twisted ankles.

But I've never really understood that I was training my brain to trust my leg.

This is a problem I'd like to solve for other poses, too.

For instance, I can teach a whole lot of people to be in the other tree pose, adho mukha vrksasana (downward facing tree pose), hand-stand.

But I'm much less successful at teaching people to kick up into hand-stand unassisted.

I've believed for a long time it's because their brains don't trust their arms.

I'd like to figure that one out. I'm wondering what we can practice so that the brain knows the rest of the body is ready to toss the legs up over the hands. Until I do...

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was janu. Janu means knee, as in parivrtta janusirsana, the revolved knee head pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is chatura. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., I wrote about MICE in my Daily Yoga Tip on November 9, 2005. It's called "RICE or MICE" You can read it here.

p.p.p.p.s., We're getting ready to announce some fun free give-aways for everyone who has signed up for the Daily Yoga Tip by email. Sign up today, so you'll be the first to hear about the fabulous prize that'll we'll mail out to free, if you ask for it. And, as always, please let your friends know about my Daily Yoga Tip. They'll want our special gift, too. Thank you.

p.p.p.p.p.s., In the spirit of journalistic integrity, that picture above of the knees is not me. But my legs looked just like that a few days after my surgery.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Evert to Avert Knee Pain

A few days ago I took my first yoga class since arthroscopic surgery on my right knee (10 days prior).

I'm feeling really good.

But I noticed that my knee was tender and a bit unstable in poses in which I was down on the floor with my knee bent and thigh externally rotated.

Specifically, I very carefully did agni stambhasana (fire log pose), eka pada raja kapotasana variation (one-leg lord of the pigeon pose), janu sirsasana (knee head pose), and simple cross-legged sitting, like sukhasana (easy pose).

In each of these poses I tended to point my toe and invert the ankle so that the sole of my foot faced up.

If you look at the pictures that are linked to each of the Sanskrit pose names above, you'll see that in all but one the yogi has his or her toe pointed and the sole of the foot facing up, just like me.

What does it mean to invert the ankle? Many call this "sickling." It's when you 'turn' the foot so the outside of your ankle bulges out. When you do it, the foot is shaped like a sickle.

Even we who know zilch about old agricultural techniques know what a sickle looks like. It was the symbol of the former USSR. I saw it all the time when I was a kid.

When your feet are sickled, the peroneus longus muscle that runs down the outside of the lower leg, is lax. Wake up the peroneus and you add stability and integrity to the knee. And for me, knee pain disappeared.

You wake up the peroneus by flexing the ankle (or more technically correct, dorsiflexing) and everting the heel.

When you evert, the outside of the ankle no longer bulges out. It draws in. The area under the outside ankle bone is hollowed. And running down the outside edge of your lower leg you'll see what I call a "racing stripe". It's a long trough that indicates the peroneus muscle is active.

Look at the first picture in this Daily Yoga Tip. You'll see the woman doing agni stambhasana has her feet flexed and both heels everted.

By creating this action, she protects her knees. You can do it, too.

Evert. It does your knees good. (Hint: Look back at your ankles in downward facing dog pose. Are the sickled? Or everted?)

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was pada. Pada means foot or leg, as in eka pada rajakapotasana, the one-leg lord of the pigeons pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is janu. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., I wrote about some other things you can do to help nix knee pain in my Daily Yoga Tip on May 31, 2005. It's called "More Knee Pain?" You can read it here.

p.p.p.p.s., Join us for the "Foundations of Teaching Yoga" workshop this Saturday in Fulton, MO. If you have a desire to teach yoga and you currently study and practice yoga, you're invited to participate in this 6-hour workshop. It's by donation only.

You must register in advance by calling Sandy Conner Otto at Natural Focus Yoga Studio. She is our host for the day.

Email me, or call, if you have questions at info@experienceyoga.org.

And, we'll be coming back the next day, Sunday afternoon, for a 3-hour session of meditation and yoga philosophy. It begins at 1:00 pm. Again, this workshop is by donation only. Please call Sandy for more information and to register.

p.p.p.p.p.s., When I wrote the "Sing Your Yoga" Daily Yoga Tip a few days ago, I didn't expect to hear so many responses from you, my wonderful readers. Thank you.

I mentioned in that Daily Yoga Tip that you can sometimes get extra focus by saying what you want to do as you do it.

I especially loved a message I got from Beth in Northern Virginia. She said, "I also wanted to mention the power of silent practice. Sometimes I get distracted in yoga class by all of the instructions. I want to know the intructions but at the same time, a silent class, in which you are practicing together with other people yet everyone is left to connect to his or her own center without having to come outside to attend to words, can deepen your experience temendously and heighten your inner awareness nad your connection between mind and body."

I couldn't agree more.

Yoga literally means to integrate opposites. So maybe it's not so odd to one day advise you to talk while doing yoga, and the next day suggest you remain silent.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sing Your Yoga

After an enjoyable summer off, I was back in the choir loft singing at church this morning.

(If you've never developed a pranayama practice, join the choir. Many of the same benefits of pranayama are found in singing.)

Unlike a few of my early experiences in the church choir, I find now that because of the extra focus I bring to bear (to follow the choir director, tune up my pitch, keep rhythm), I participate more fully in the liturgy and I get more out of it. My experience of our parish gathering is richer. And it has more lasting impact.

I've found the same general rule applies to teaching yoga, when compared to simply practicing yoga.

In order for me to teach yoga, I've really got to focus. I concentrate.

I've found that much of the time that added level of focus allows me to do some things that I'm usually not able to do when I'm just practicing yoga.

I'll grant it to you that teaching yoga, at least the way I do it, is a highly verbal activity. Doing yoga, on the other hand, is not.

Yet, while teaching, my focus is often so distilled, I can simply say a phrase like, "relax your jaw" and my jaw goes slack right then and there.

Could listening be the key? Paying attention?

When I teach yoga, I'm not only saying what I'd like my students to do, but I'm listening to what I'm saying. (If you've never taught yoga before you may be unfamiliar with how important this is.) Likewise, when I'm singing at church, I'm listening to what I'm singing.

It's self-awareness.

Want to add a new dimension of focus to your yoga practice? Try saying out loud what you need to say in order to get yourself to do the thing you want to do.

Don't just think the thoughts. Say the words and listen. You'll be surprised at how difficult it is to say what you want. But when you master the concentraion required to say only what is needed, you'll see that it pays off in your practice.

Once you've taught yourself some yoga, experiment with teaching others. Share your yoga experience. Don't keep it to yourself. Sing it out. It's rewarding to give to others what you have received.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was nidra. Nidra means sleep, as in yoganidrasana, the sleep of the yoga pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is pada. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., I wrote about some of the effects of singing in Daily Yoga Tip from June, 2005. It's called "'Old Friend' Became Deep Throat for More Energy Than Ever." You can read it here.

p.p.p.p.s., Sallie Keeney and I sat down yesterday for a very inspiring session of preparation for the "Foundations of Teaching Yoga" workshop were doing this Saturday in Fulton, MO. If you have a desire to teach yoga and you currently study and practice yoga, you're invited to participate in this 6-hour workshop.

This workshop starts at 9 am and finishes at 4 pm. We'll take a 1-hour break for lunch.

Here's the cool part: it's by donation only. You pay what you want. Or you pay nothing at all. You won't want to miss it.

At this workshop we won't be teaching yoga poses, we'll be teaching about teaching. So come prepared to teach.

You must register in advance by calling Sandy Conner Otto at Natural Focus Yoga Studio, in Fulton, MO. She is our host for the day.

Please bring an audio recorder/play-back device (e.g., cassette recorder, digital recorder, dictaphone, etc.) if you have one, and your three favorite yoga pose books. If you like notes, bring a pen and a notebook. We won't be giving any cue sheets or handout materials.

See you there. Email me, or call, if you have questions at info@experienceyoga.org.

And, we'll be coming back the next day, Sunday afternoon, for a 3-hour session of meditation and yoga philosophy. Again, this workshop is by donation only. Please call Sandy for more information and to register.

p.p.p.p.p.s., Yesterday morning I took my first yoga class since my knee surgery 10 days ago. It felt great to be back studying yoga again. After yoga, I went to my first physical therapy session. My physical therapist was very happy, as I have been, with the progress I've made.

I asked you all for your prayers. It seems obvious to me now that you did. Thank you. I am grateful beyond words.

I want to write tomorrow about the knee pain I felt in yoga class, and just what I did about it. Later on this week, I'll be writing about what I learned from my physical therapist about how to clear swelling and inflammation out of my joint. Stay tuned.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Yoga Amateur

It's no surprise to you. If you've been taking my Daily Yoga Tip for any time at all, you know I'm a "word nerd." I know at least one of you has called me by that term of endearment.

So you'll not be surprised that I've always liked a book I read a long time ago called Amo, Amas, Amat. It's a book of Latin phraseology, amusing and provacative.

The title conjugates the verb to love. "I love, you love, he/she/it loves," the book cover announces. (We all love Latin! Or, the little voice way back there seems to whisper, we should love it.)

I recalled this a fews days ago while listening to an inteview with Karen Armstrong, a beautiful woman and scholar who refers to herself as an "amateur theologian."

She made use of the term amateur in a way that occurs for me like an attempt to rehabilitate it from the perjorative by pointing me to its etymological origins. Hidden in the word amateur, previously unseen by me, lurks the Latin word amat.

An amateur is not some bush league hopeful who didn't quite make it into the realm of real professionals. Rather, an amateur is someone who truly loves what he or she does, regardless of rank or revenues.

I love yoga.

But only when I do it.

In this regard, I am a happy amateur.

Won't you join me?

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was go. Go means cow, as in gomukhasana, the cow-face pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is nidra. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., For those of you who might be interested in a blast from the past I wrote about sequencing back in April, 2005. The Daily Yoga Tip is called "Sequence and Intention." You can read it here.

In that Daily Yoga Tip I refer to a web site that tracks the 86,800 most frequently used words int he English language. What's fun is that the web page displays all of the words graphically. And you can search for words, too.

Just for your information, today "love" is ranked 384. It is surrounded by "economic" and "means." "Yoga" is ranked 18,879, exactly where it was back in 2005. Hmmmm.

p.p.p.p.s., Our Experience Paradise yoga vacation in Yelapa, Mexico is coming up in February, 2007. Watch for more details in future Daily Yoga Tips.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Van Gogh Do It

Here's a quicky. I couldn't resist this.

Someone sent me an email today with this quote in it, attributed to Vincent Van Gogh:

If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.

How's that for a kick in the seat of the pants?

So many times it's an idea, a thought, just that and nothing more, that gets in the way of what you want to do. Even if what you want to do is something as simple as having fun.

Do the thing. The thing that's in front of you to do.

Do the splits.
Write your novel.
Forgive.
Propose.
Start over.

You know what it is.

Don't let the voices that say
I'm not strong enough.
My butt's too big.
That hurts.
It won't work.
________________. (Insert your thought here.)
stop you.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was kona. Kona means angle, as in utthita trikonasana, the extended three-angle pose. Triangle pose is the answer the question I posed yesterday. I think triangle pose is one of the roughest on the knees because lots of people hyper-extend their knees in the pose (ouch!) and they do this pose all the time.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is go. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., I wrote about stopping back in August, 2005. The Daily Yoga Tip is called "Stop Stopping." You can read it here.

p.p.p.p.s., Our Experience Paradise yoga vacation in Yelapa, Mexico is coming up in February, 2007. Watch for more details in future Daily Yoga Tips.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737

Friday, September 08, 2006

More On Knees, Please

Here's part of an email I got a few days ago from a Daily Yoga Tip reader in Maryland:
ps. Blessings for you speedy recovery for your surgery.
pps. With your experience. what poses do you think are most harmful to knees?
You've gotta love someone who gets right to the heart of it, don't you?

Without question, lotus pose, padmasana, is the pose most harmful to the knees, if you attempt to practice it regularly.

Lotus pose, and those that are similar to it, require open hips, specifically that the femurs rotate externally (laterally) in the hip sockets.

Because they practice it all the time, ballerinas are really good and lateral rotation of the femurs.

The thighs are hard to grab when you attempt to manually turn the thigh bones in the lotus pose.

So, by hook or by crook we grab the feet and lower legs and we wrestle with them until we pull ourselves mercilessly into the pose.

Then, we attempt to look cool and calm as we sit and pretend to meditate. Ouch.

This is not the recipe for samadhi. It's a recipe for overstretched lateral collateral ligaments and the surgery that follows.

Roger Cole wrote an article published in Yoga Journal that I can't recommend enough. You can find it here. But you may have to register with the Yoga Journal site to view it. Be sure you click on the graphics to see the large and up-close view of a strained lateral collateral ligament and the crushed medial mesicus that goes with it.

Here's a big BUT: I see bunches of students every week who never try padmasana. They don't even think about it. So...they can't hurt their knees with a pose they don't do.

There is a pose they do all they time that could cause a different sort of damage.

I'll write about it next time.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was ananda. Ananda means bliss. I think some of the anesthesia medicine I was given during my surgery Wednesday really plugged into my bliss receptors! I haven't been in such a good mood in a long time!

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is kona. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., I wrote about knees and poses that are related to padmasana back in June, 2005. The Daily Yoga Tip is called "Wild Fire, Burning Desire." You can read it here.

p.p.p.p.s., Our Experience Paradise yoga vacation in Yelapa, Mexico is coming up in February, 2007. Watch for more details in future Daily Yoga Tips.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737