Monday, September 27, 2010
I find something magical about being willing to step away from what is comfortable and stable into the darkness, into the unknown. It's these blind steps which strip all the haze that blocks my vision. And you know, I find that when I make those courageous steps, everything narrows, and for a breathtaking moment everything is dark. But it's amazing how what really matters suddenly starts to shine, like fireflies dancing against the pitch, leading me forward. I feel like for me, creating a relationship with the unknown is sometimes the price to grow in the ways I really need to grow. I have amazing presence in those moments when I can't see where I'm going but walk forward nonetheless. This relationship with the unknown empowers me with a simple yet crucial investigative vulnerability. It shakes me enough to really open my eyes. With my faculties honed, the sleepiness of mundane life shaken from my eyes, I feel alive, more present, more like myself than I have in years.
Yes, the darkness can be scary. It can also be mystical and magical. Like Wendell Berry says in his poem To Know the Darkness:
To go into the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.
I invite you to take a step into the darkness. You know that scary thing that sort of nags you, that you almost don't dare to consider because then you may have to confront it? I invite you to consider stepping toward that thing. Yep. And even thinking about it, it's already begun. Take that step. Rest assured, you will be challenged. But you too will create a relationship with the unknown and you will grow and bloom and discover new things about yourself that will most likely surprise and amaze you.
So in preparation for that big step into the darkness, I'd like to invite you to join me for a special event. Here's my idea: On Saturday, October 9th, from 7-9 pm, I've reserved the Sugar Space (616 Willmington Ave ) for us to explore the darkness in such a fun and inviting way. I call it G L O W G A. You heard me,
G L O W G A. And you guessed it, we're gonna paint each other in glow paint, turn off the lights and celebrate the darkness by doing yoga in dark. Try balancing in tree pose in the dark then looking around and seeing phosphorescent lines of light swaying all together. We'll be moving, flowing, nay even grooving in the darkness. We'll move our dark feet, and we'll spread our dark wings. Go dark without going to the dark side, you hear what I'm sayin'. The talented Leraine will rock our souls as she plays live music. I can't tell you how fun this is. This has got to be one of the best ideas in the history of good ideas. Yes, it's crazy but really, really fun. Really, everybody. You don't want to miss this. Get a sitter, bring all your friends, your family, your neighbor, your dentist, your taxidermist, (random, yes, but work with me) and get to G L O W G A!
Space is limited so reserve your spot TODAY by sending me a check or using PayPal register. I'll bring the glow stuff. Just bring a towel, yourself-oh, and 14 or so of your friends. See you there!
G L O W G A
October 9th 7-9 pm
616 Wilmington Ave (between 21st and 22nd So. Just past Pep Boys on 7th East)
Bring a towel to put over your mat. Wear a tank top and shorts and/or clothes you don't mind getting glow goo on, it washes out but don't wear your nicest stuff. Again, I'll bring the glow goo.
This will fill up so sign up NOW!
find the pay pal link on the side of this post to pay online.
or send a check for $30 to:
1020 East 800 South #2
Salt Lake City, UT 84102
Monday, September 20, 2010
We Built This City on Rock and Roll.
We Built This City . . .
In the summer of 2003, Celeste and I moved from Korea to Salt Lake City to help D’ana Baptiste open Centered City Yoga. We really wanted to open something at the 9th and 9th area but simply could not find a location. I remember vividly the day when Celeste and I were simply walking around the neighborhood looking for inspiration, we stopped at the front of the Children’s Hour (what is now Orange Boutique), Celeste pointed up and asked, “What’s up there?” There was no sign on the door saying it was available but it looked vacant. A month later, almost to the day, we were teaching classes at what is now Centered City Yoga.
It was a long month, however. Upon our first walk through, I thought it couldn’t happen, that space could not serve as a yoga studio. Did you know it used to be a bakery at one time? In the back of the main studio, you’ll see a post under the ceiling material which extends out the wooden door in the back of the studio. They used it to haul big bags of flour up to the second level by a chain, a remnant of which still exists if you look. It used to be Orion Music. Once I asked a student what he did for a living. He said he was an artist. I asked if he owned a studio. He said that it was funny I should ask because the room we were standing in, the main studio at CCY, used to serve as his art studio. Again, it was Celeste who had the vision to transform this space from its many incarnations into what it is now.
Over the next month, Celeste, D’ana, and I spent 17 hours a day in blood, sweat and tears, 7 days a week preparing the space by tearing down walls, ripping out carpet, chipping away floor tile, inserting windows, installing floors, insulating and covering the ceiling, installing bathrooms, adding baseboards, lighting, ceiling fans, and sanding the stairs and the metal railings. And in time, we opened Centered City Yoga at the end of September, just after the 9th and 9th street fair of 2003. I bear scars on my body that will always be a happy reminder of the work I put it to build Centered City.
In those early days, I remember meager classes with one student in them. In many ways these early classes at Centered City Yoga taught me how to teach yoga. I wouldn’t have believed it then if you told me that on January 1st of 2010 I would teach 86 people at once in the big studio to ring in the New Year with a yoga class. I remember a bright treasure room full of friends greeting me when I came back from India early this year, waiting to hear the message I brought back which was, you don’t need to go to India to find what you’re looking for or to figure out who you are, you can do it right here. I GLOWGA, exploring who we are as we moved our phosphorescent bodies through the dark (Check it out! GLOWGA will happen again on October 9th at Sugar Space. See details below). I remember fun and laughable partner yoga workshop with Kim. I have burned my soul into those walls and floor by practicing thousands of hours of yoga in those studios, sweating and breathing, and sometimes laughing. Two of my favorite teaching faux pas: #1 instead of saying, “move your knees and hips,” I conveniently consolidated those words and said, “move your nips,” and completely broke the concentration of the class; and #2, during a quiet and restful restore practice I asserted that this practice would bring you “wealth and hellness” instead of health and wellness. I’ll always love Centered City Yoga.
Now It’s Time to Rock and Roll
After much deliberation and meditation, I’ve decided to leave CCY and open a new studio in Trolley Square with some friends, Matt Newman and Jennifer Ellen Mueller, called Prana Yoga Center. It’s just a few blocks away from Centered City. I’ll be excited to not only teach yoga classes but also be an owner of the studio as well as help direct and teach the teacher training program. Many of you have said that you would wait to do a yoga teacher training program until I taught it, well here’s your chance. My vision is to teach at and help direct a yoga studio that will be inclusive to all types of people, regardless of experience or ability, to be a tour guide along this crazy ride of being human, pointing out a few things I’ve learned from yoga, and to welcome all into a sacred space as they search for themselves what it means to be human through the amazing practice of yoga. This new facility is going to be AMAZING. Prana yoga Center will be conveniently located just behind the new Whole Foods, with plenty of parking below and will even be connected to a café operated by the people at Sages. There will be massage rooms, steam showers, and lots of clean, pristine space in which to practice yoga. Our goal is to practice community and personal awareness through the skillful art of yoga. We hope to open around the middle of November, so stay tuned! Please visit our facebook page.
Again, though I feel it was the correct decision, it nonetheless was a difficult decision to leave Centered City Yoga. I want to thank D’ana, all the teachers, and especially the students at t CCY, who gave me such a rich experience there. I’ll always love you and hope to see you often. I feel my new adventure is a good choice and I hope you’ll all come and see me as I continue to teach workshops, retreats, and very soon when Prana Yoga Center gets rolling. I’m looking forward to inviting you into this new space. Look at our facebook page to see the construction of our space.
If you’ve practiced with me at Centered City, I’d be deeply honored if you chose to respond to this email by clicking here and posting your most memorable experience with me at Centered City Yoga.
I’ll continue to post this weekly dialogue about yoga. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere!
Love your guts!
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
An 2003, I attended a life-changing concert--Herbie Hancock teamed up with other jazz greats such as Michael Brecker (now passed on) and Roy Hargrove. Whether yoga asana or jazz, both modes point to that oneness of being we all share. Both point to and celebrate spirit. The following is an excerpt of something I wrote about this event.
It was Spiritual. There was a moment in the concert when the horns were off stage allowing the rhythm section to solo. The concert hall was dark except for three dim spotlights, each illuminating a musician on stage. Herbie Hancock was hunched over his keys popping dissonant chords like ice on a red-hot stove. John Patitucci's fingers blurred and tangled as they whirred around the fretboard of his double bass. The drummer was nimbly tap-dancing around his set. Popping, clinking, banging, like someone rummaging through a junk drawer. Then, each musician began to play as if oblivious to the other musicians. All three seemed to abandon the song's underlying structure, the musical map that makes playing together possible. They were alone--lost and consumed in the rite of making their own art. Time began to slip away, and it became more of an abstract idea than a perceptible pulse--impossible to find a down-beat.
The music floated like this for eternally long minutes. I could see the music personified on the furrowed brows and grimaces of the musicians. Their notes were together turbulent, raging, furious, and at times lackadaisical. I too drifted with the music. Despite the joy of this ride, however, something was gnawing at me. It was my rational mind wondering how the music could possibly come back together from this entropy. I could see no signs that the musicians were following any sort of map in the song's structure. How would the horns know when to come in and start the melody again, the head? How would the rhythm section come back together? And with these questions, my eyes fixed upon the musicians, hypnotized to the scene before me. Afraid to miss a single note, I stared wide-eyed, wondering what would happen next. Minutes and seconds had ceased.
And after an age, suddenly the horns were back on stage. Without a word, and without a cue, without a gesture, not even a glance, the rhythm section simultaneously aligned to a slow, swung 4/4 meter at the precise fraction of a second that both sax and trumpet blew a soft, low, singular, note. The timbre of this note could not be discerned by the nature of the instruments; it was both sax and trumpet. A third horn. A new name. Invisible but right in front of me. And with this new horn they began the head.
All five were playing as individuals, carving out their own signature and personalities with their instrument. Yet despite the apparent autonomy, chaos, and dissonance, every sound by each musician originated from the same steady beat of one shared heart. It is this heart that makes the maps and this heart that sews the musicians together with an invisible thread. My soul was witnessing a miracle: as I watched and heard them play, I was sensing this shared, invisible heart. I was seeing the finger of God.
One my favorite songs of the night was one that Roy Hargrove wrote called The Poet. It honors Miles Davis and tells an emotional musical story about Miles' character. When Roy took his solo, I was particularly honed to what Roy was saying with his trumpet. As he played, he told me: " if you look in your heart, look deep inside, look way down, keep going deeper, and listen really carefully, amid the discord of life you will find the answer to what you are looking for. You'll find the peaceful and beautiful melody of your deepest inner soul. But be patient and diligent because it will be fleeting; nonetheless, be privy to it. It's there and it's the peace and joy that always resides in you."
I hope that you have similar experiences in your practice of daily living, in those moments of being awake. Maybe you'll find one like this in yoga this week.
Click here for the full text.