Once Again, Mighty Hercules Vanquishes the Enemy (just in time)

Once Again, Mighty Hercules Vanquishes the Enemy (just in time)

The Mighty Hercules  was a low-budget, visually stilted cartoon on tv that enthralled me when I was a very young child.  Thanks to youtube, which makes the past perpetually available, I was able to pull up a couple of clips and share them with someone recently.  We had a good laugh. Hercules (or Herc, as his friends called him) had a ring that he would slip on at crucial moments in the predictable-but-immensely-satisfying plot of each short episode.  As he slid that ring on and stretched his fist to the sky, thunder bolts would flash and crash from the heavens, re-empowering the ring, and thus the wearer, with tremendous, otherworldly forces of goodness and strength. I totally believed in that ring.  I wanted one myself.  To be truthful, I was convinced that I already possessed such a ring. Not as an object, but as a state inside that could be accessed when really, really necessary. Apologies if this sounds hokey, but I believe that the practices of yoga (and here I include meditation and deep study, which alter understanding and perception) serve as that ring for us. They can function as vehicles that plug us back in to our noblest energies and capacities.  They remind us that these qualities do exist. Goodness is always relevant. Mighty Hercules made overcoming cheesy villains look easy, of course.  Outside of cartoon world, the process is more difficult.  It always has been.  The yogic traditions, from ancient revelation and mythology, to Patanjali, to teachings of Tantra and beyond, took a close look at the form and function of the dysfunctions in and around us.   They named them.  And they developed techniques, practices, ways...
WATCH: WHAT IS THE BODY?

WATCH: WHAT IS THE BODY?

As yoga practitioners, asking questions about and inquiring into the nature of the body helps us to shed light on the journey we are on.  Different yoga traditions hold different perspectives on the body, and for different reasons.  Here is a brief introduction to this amazing...
WATCH: WHAT IS THE MIND?

WATCH: WHAT IS THE MIND?

What is the mind is the question of the moment!  In yoga, the mind can (and should) be stretched and strengthened, just like the body. Enjoy this short talk on the nature of the mind and its potential. We hope the dog, who snuck in mid-talk, doesn’t distract...
WATCH: WHAT IS THE HEART?

WATCH: WHAT IS THE HEART?

This is an enormous question. While admittedly, it’s not possible to answer it fully, at least from the perspective of the yoga tradition, we ask anyways. In the attempt to respond, something just might happen. In this video, we are encouraged to consider the nature of the heart as both an essential aspect of our selves, and something that unites us...
YOGA & THE AHA EXPERIENCE

YOGA & THE AHA EXPERIENCE

We reap so many benefits from regular, ongoing practice. It’s good to pause occasionally, take a good look back to see how far we have come and to appreciate how yoga can tend to work on us in a gradual way, quietly shifting our perception over time, smoothing out rough edges. At the same time, for many of us it’s also the occasional unexpected AHA moment(s) that keep us returning to the path.  These Aha experiences or epiphanies can take different forms: a sudden letting go of secretly held tension in the body, or a flash of insight into reality (oh, NOW I get it!);  a spontaneous uprising of love and compassion, or an opening into a space of deep peace or delight. Sound familiar? These moments have always intrigued me.  In fact, my years of study in asana, meditation, and especially yoga philosophy have largely been motivated by a need to understand this type of experience. One thing I know for sure is that I am not the only one to inquire in this way.  In the sublime text called the Shiva Sutra, which dates back to around 850 ce we are told:  vismayo yogabhumikah!  The progressive stages of yoga are filled with great wonder and astonishment. While, granted, the sutras speak to intense levels of inner practice and experience, even so I believe we can see in our AHA momentary openings or insights at least an echo of what the Shiva Sutra speaks about. But here’s a fundamental question:  Why is it that these experiences seen to be by their very nature, moments only, not hours or days?  I mean, who ever heard of an Aha Year?  It  seems, well, unfair. There is so much to be...
YOGA & THE RE-COLOURING OF OUR VISION

YOGA & THE RE-COLOURING OF OUR VISION

Hello!  Well here we are, safely past the mid-point of winter.  While flakes are still falling outside, and it’s still anything but warm, I have been feeling a slow pull out of my partial wintry slumber, into the field of action.  Is someone out there turning up the dimmer switch, or is something else going on? The other day, I was having a follow-up conversation with some students who had completed a year-long study program with me.  One of them has been working with a book about the creative process.  She mentioned that, although technically the book wasn’t related to yoga, she was finding a startling number of correspondences between what she was reading and what she had gathered through her own contemplation of yoga’s wisdom traditions.  In fact, to her surprise, the book was even helping her integrate some of the tricker, multi-layered philosophical notions I had thrown at the group, which she had been grappling with. I was not surprised.  This is how it’s supposed to work.  Once we have practiced and studied for a while, a shift takes place where yoga is no longer just something located in a certain technique, text, or philosophical idea, something that runs parallel to our lives. Rather, it begins to work from inside, illuminating what we see and engage with outside of us (whether that be a book or a life situation).  By the same token, over time, through yoga’s intricate process of both undoing and integration, the outer world – our daily life – begins to affirm, clarify, and often test our understanding of the teachings and path of...

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