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I try to think about my life and to live simply and deliberately. I don’t have cable or a cell phone. I don’t own a car. I do have a bicycle with one gear, which I love to ride in traffic, and, at last count, five skateboards for when I don’t feel like walking to the bus stop (although I do love walking). Compared to figuring out how to get everything I might want, it seems simpler and better to try to want less.
I came to yoga, initially, for its reputed therapeutic benefits. In particular, I suffered from knee problems resulting from years of cycling, running, and strength training. Many of the therapy regimens mentioned this or that yoga posture as beneficial, but I’m never one for half measures. So, I signed up for a Basics Series here at Balance, and committed to attending three times per week. I would like to be able to say that my first class felt like a homecoming of overwhelming peace and bliss. In fact, for some time it was just awkward and sweaty. Most of the postures seemed impossibly difficult. At first, I was sustained only by blind faith in the encouraging words of my teachers (like “yes, some day you will touch your toes” and “no, your arms are not too short” and “breath deeply and be patient”). That was a couple of years ago. Over time, what was difficult became easy and, as Marsha says, the impossible became possible, both physically and otherwise. I could touch my toes; I slept better; I felt less inclined to respond in kind to negative and aggressive people. I have found yoga practice to be both humbling and empowering: merciless in rooting out weakness and imbalance wherever they hide in the body or soul, but also superlatively compassionate in providing remedies.
As a younger man, I earned BA and MA degrees in philosophy, and I remain an avid amateur student of western and eastern philosophy. My practice has come to include studying the philosophical traditions with which yoga has been associated over the millenia. I take very seriously the notion that practicing yoga postures is part of a larger practice of spiritual emancipation, and I hope my classes reflect this committment. Don’t worry, that does not mean that you’ll have to hear a sermon or dissertation while trying to balance on one foot, but rather that I encourage students to practice the postures in a way that reflects the ethical tenets of yoga: to practice non-violence toward their own bodies; to be truthful (with themselves) about their capabilities; to practice without attachment to imagined future results, and so on. A sense of humor and an attitude of curiosity are, I believe, all you need to get started.
I dedicate my teaching to those who have had the compassion and patience to teach me, especially Marsha and Jennifer.