Kate got me into yoga — coming in day after day last fall glowing from Bikram. Bikram was too hot for me, literally, but I discovered “Core Power” soon after and was hooked. And grateful. Kate is thinking of posting a photo of herself in corpse pose. It doesn’t occur to me to do something like that, as I am incredibly word-centric. And that is part of the reason yoga is fantastically healing for me. I came off a long stretch of years of writing my book where I was desperate for a break from the thoughts in my head. Yoga has taken me out of my head. Rather, more accurately, it has helped me center myself, including the thoughts in my head, in my body. This is a relief, practically a whole new life.

As I’ve grown into this practice, I’ve experienced other intriguing epiphanies. About six months in on a very regular routine, I experienced a surge of energy. This was nearly overwhelming for a few weeks; I was sleeping several hours less than normal and waking up energized. It was as though yoga had unblocked or tapped more energy than my metabolism knew what to do with. And after about a month, that stabilized, settled down. I also went through a period a few months in of a deep, visceral, unnamable sadness. I’ve written in my book and done radio about my history of clinical depression; and for someone who has struggled with depression, sadness can be scary. But this felt natural and safe somehow. The scary part was that it eluded words and conscious analysis; I could not think it through. As it was arising in my body, I sensed it would have to work its way out of my body. And it did. I do speak about this with Seane Corn in our interview, something I’d been looking forward to.

There’s a lot of talk in yoga about taking the practice “off the mat” — letting its lessons infuse daily life. I didn’t notice this immediately, and the ways I find it happening now are quite mundane. But they’re still powerful; they are reordering some of the ways I approach what is mundane. So, for example, I’ve always been driven and goal-oriented. But in flow yoga, every transition is as important as every finished pose; and grace in transitions is as important as getting the final poses right. Somewhat to my surprise, I find that I’m able (sometimes, not all the time!) to spend more time and care on graceful transitioning and processing as on final products in other parts of my life. This is liberating — it’s like I’ve been missing whole stages of experience, at an ordinary level, all my life.

Finally, I also see the deepest lessons of yoga taking hold on me as I go lighter rather than harder on myself as I in fact become more advanced. This is perhaps the first passionate endeavor in my life in which I am absolutely content that I don’t have to be great or best or always better. I take as much pleasure in slow poses as in fast; I cut myself slack when I’m tired or distracted. I let messy, inconsistent life be what it is. I learn to delight in my body just as it is, at 47. And this does somehow translate into being easier on everything and everyone else around me. For a lifelong perfectionistic over-achiever, this is a seismic step forward into wisdom. I’m amazed to find this practice helping me literally embody many of the great spiritual teachings of my own faith and those that inspire me in others. So I’m grateful to Kate, and grateful to all the sages and practitioners who kept this spiritual technology alive for something like 5,000 years so that I and other 21st-century mortals could discover it when we need it most.


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41Reflections

Reflections

Krista, I have been following your show for years. You are an amazing woman and I take inspiration from you. THANK YOU.

I live in Los Angeles, where yoga is a competitive sport. The yoga classes I've visited are full of young, lithe bodies that bear little resemblance to my stocky, stiff middle-aged self. Where does one find a class where an older beginner is able benefit from yoga without being made to feel foolish and out of place?

mjcarter,
I'm an older yogi but I go regularly to classes at Yoga Works (www.yogaworks.com) where I see other people my age and older. Sure, I see the lithe, young bodies, too but most of the classes I've been to are pretty well mixed. I go to YW in Orange County and I know that they have LA locations, too. I would imagine the mix of people is similar there. And, if not, maybe it's an opportunity to focus inward rather than outward.

When I first started practicing yoga, I would regularly push myself too far with the inevitable result that I would strain a muscle or a tendon. I eventually learned my lesson and that rarely happens now. I try to stay focused on my own practice (inward) and accept where I'm at. Easy to say, I know, harder to do. Honestly, I do still compare myself with others but at least I don't usually push myself over the edge.

Hope this helps,
Dave

I complained one week to my yoga teacher that when I practiced on my own, instead of being fully in each posture, part of my mind was thinking about what posture I was going to do next. "Is it like that for you in life too?" she asked. I gasped with the realization. The ability to observe, to realize, to decide to do something differently - those are yoga's most precious gifts.

Krista, Wonderful focus on yoga here! you might be interested in a look into Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion, as it is manifesting here in the US. This body prayer that Seane is talking about is just that- a manifestation of devotion in motion that is taking root throughout modern yoga's flood into our country. There are so many ways that these ancient practices can apply to the modern world, through the beautiful metaphors of Indian culture and mysticism, and to find a yoga path that blends them together is like coming home, especially for a thinking and feeling God-lover like you! Check out www.thebhaktishop.com to see where modern, western, bhakti yoga is taking some God-loving Portlanders right now! Love your show and blog, keep inquiring and loving!

I am curious as to your take on whether yoga as a spiritual technology carries within it the values/convictions of Hinduism. I have run into more than one Christian who practices yoga but is very concerned about the convictions that lie nested within any particular spiritual practice. In other words, are you suggesting that spiritual technologies like yoga are "value/conviction" neutral or do they contain at least the seeds of the Hindu values and convictions from which they grow?

Hi Jim, Yoga has nothing to do with Hinduism. It is separate from the philosophies of that faith, although many Hindus practice yoga. Please look at the Yoga Sutras, written around 200 BC, the oldest writings on yoga. There you will see that the sutras encourage people to believe in whatever works for them, as long as they practice, and that is the key, practice, the eight fold path of yoga, which includes postures, breathing, meditation, and a strict moral path. I've taught yoga for thirty years and have had people of every, and no, faith in classes, and yoga works the same for all of them.

Thanks for the post Krista - I'm looking forward to listening to the programme.

For me, there is something about Yoga that allows my body to be listened to - it is so easily ignored. When I manage to keep a regular routine of yoga going (there have been several stints interspersed by many roads with many good intentions), I find myself walking and being aware of my diaphragm rising and falling, being aware of my feet on the ground, being aware of my back and spine - and there seems to be something about care-for-self that comes with such awareness... A friend of mine used to talk about having an inner monologue between three distinct sisters within herself - and that by listening to these three sisters, she could become aware of her (sometimes conflicting) thoughts about her world... somehow Yoga seems to be about listening to a conversation coming from the body that is quiet, yet important.

And your mention of the sadness of the body is very real... there seems to be memory stored in our bones, in the muscles clenched in anger, or regret, or disappointment... and tending to these muscles releases the lament it seems - hopefully we can all listen with kindness and patience.

I can feel another attempt at yoga-regularity calling me...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful and intimate reflection. Your words help us remember that we are all part of something larger than ourselves.

I've been considering beginning yoga for a long time and now I am motivated! Does anyone know of a great studio in Atlanta? Thanks Krista, I love your program!

try stillwater yoga located above the midtown Landmark Art movie theater at 10th and monroe - Kathleen Pringle and a dedicated core of teachers share Iyengar hatha yoga - many of the teachers travel to India yearly to study with the Iyengars in person - there is a great continuity of the lineage at this studio scott b

Hi Krista,
Your program is always so refreshing and interesting, it is no surprise to hear about yoga on SOF. I have been practicing for 8 years mostly meditation and in the past 3 years asana (physical) practice. Yoga gave me the tools to deal with so many aspects of life when I need outer courage, inner strength and patience.
Kate's experience is beautiful and I am glad to hear her articulate what sometimes has no words...I do believe there were some aspects not mentioned. Asana as part of the eight limbs of yoga was indeed a perfect practice. It was, an in some ways & place still is, an art form, art of the body. This is why the poses have animal or objects they are to resemble...Another aspect not mentioned is the original purpose of the vinyasa practice. The vinyasa flow sequence is grounded in 2 'sun salutaiton' sequences. Sun Salutations are practiced at sun rise along with prayer in India, as you can see it is originally a body prayer. In the book 'The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga', Srivatsa Ramaswami includes the original 'Sun Salutation' along with the Yogic prayer. The grandfather of modern yoga, Sri Krishnamacharya would modify the various prayers to his students when giving t hem a sequence and practice, he would read and extract from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim prayers.I was disappointed this was not discussed in the program, while Kate's experience is wonderful, the original sources were not discussed.

Wow, your blog could have been written by me (except I'm 49!), but your experience has mirrored my own. I had that sadness too, and wondered what was going on. You're right--it is very scary when you've had depression and suddenly this inexplicable sadness and lethargyt reappear. I kept trying to label it--depression? Hormones? Lack of iron? Physical illness? It makes perfect sense that this sadness was just a process of ridding myself of stuff I no longer needed. Thanks for the insight.

Krista,
You might be interested to check out One Yoga Studio in Minneapolis. It is a non-profit organization, and I've found many of the instructors emphasize the spiritual aspects of yoga in a much deeper way than at other studios. The quarterly 108 Sun Salutations celebrations (on the solstices and equinoxes) have become an important ritual for me and give a rhythm to the passing of the years.

Krista, perhaps the essential Vermont variant of a yoga practice is stacking firewood every Sunday morning while listening to SOF! Still, my back and shoulders cry out for a different way--time to find a yoga class again.

Thanks so much for your work.

First took a yoga class in 1978.

Have had dozens of teachers.

Regular practice, first thing AM, for several years now.

An actual real, what I consider complete practice for approx. 3 yrs now.

This is one place in life where the branch keeps growing. I think of it as exploring inner space. The further I reach the roomier it gets.

listening to the show for a bit, which i almost never do. and laughing. the nice yoga lady is talking about 'moving blood and lymph' and the effects it has on the body and toxins within the body -- and i'm hearing to hear krista, of 'speaking of faith' asking "now, have they *measured* that?"

hee-hee!

it occurs to me as possible that when we begin talking about direct efficacy of action, we perhaps step from the realm of 'faith' into the realm of the empirical; and desire repeatable experiments. could this be analogous to the left-brain/right-brain shifts between creativity and problem-solving?

anyway. "measurement" on "speaking of faith" gave me a cheery giggle. and reminded me that i really should find a yoga class to attend regularly.

I listen to your show often and was so happy to catch Sean Corn. I have spent a lifetime in spiritual pursuit, much of it in India with incredible Masters, Osho, the main one. In a series of his discourses on Patangli (sp?), 'Yogi, The Alpha and Omega' - which, by the way was the first book I read of his - and it totally hooked me, He explained that the practice of Yoga is to allow the Yogi to become impeccable. I so enjoyed Sean's choice of words in her explanations. It shows that she has gone there, done that and had the true experience. She is not just mouthing other people's words. She is certainly a bright light on the spiritual path. My Love to you both, Sw. Devananda.

As a mother of a seven-month-old, I was only able to catch bits of the show as I tended to the baby's needs. I can't wait to listen to the entire show as soon as possible! I just wanted to add that doing prenatal yoga was essential for my preparation for a natural childbirth. I used the poses during labor and delivery, as well as felt so free and comfortable knowing what my pregnant body was capable of doing--how much strength and energy I had at my center. I delivered without pain medication! It was painful, but I have never felt so alive. Yoga was essential for me in order to be present and aware at the birth of my daughter.

Janet, I can relate wholeheartedly to your plight of trying to listen deeply (foreground listening in radio parlance) and take care of an infant at the same time. I have a ten month old and a three year old and it's next to impossible! But, if you can, we've got the podcast waiting for you. My best to you.

Ahhh, synchronicity. I've been thinking a lot about stress, the way the body holds tension and breath. I listened to the first half of this show yesterday at work and the second half this morning at work. What Seane said about breath really resonated with me, and it's clear to me that I really needed to hear these lessons. Finally, getting to read about your experiences with yoga has been wonderful. That idea of thinking of and being in the transitions as much as in the poses, and how that relates to life, is very deep. Thank you, as always, for teaching me wonderful things.

Krista, I've been listening to your program for a long time, and downloading the podcasts for the past year or so (which is a wonderful convenience) but I haven't looked at the blog until now. Mostly because I've thought, "One more thing to keep me sitting at the computer... do I need that?!" But I had to see what you wrote about yoga... a practice I've become immersed in the past several years. Thank you so much for your insightful words. As usual, they've provided inspiration– especially the part about staying attuned to the transitions, in yoga and in life.

I also wanted to mention (I wrote to your producer about this in more detail) that my 30 year old son who has developmental disabilities has been having private yoga sessions once a week for the past year and we have seen some amazing transformations in him. New connections between his body and his mind are obviously being formed, and he is able to articulate feeling states in ways he has never been able to do before. He's calmer, too, with less anxiety. Some of the changes are subtle, but we can definitely see them, and it's thrilling. I encourage anyone with a person with disabilities in their life to explore opportunities for exposing them to yoga.

I, too, experienced a "yoga conversion" some six years ago. Around that time I had decided to step down as Founding Director of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality (where yoga, along with meditation, prayer and text study, is one of our main spiritual practices) and work instead as one of its program directors, reducing my work-load by just over six hours a week. People wondered if I might use those extra hours to write a book of Jewish spiritual wisdom, start another creative Jewish organization, or...? Instead, I was clear those six hours would be devoted solely to yoga practice. For the first time in my life, I was going to put "embodied spiritual practice" at the top of my "to-do" ("to-be"?!) list.

In my retreat-based work with Jewish spiritual leaders (www.ijs-online.org), we study the literature of Hasidism, where the movements of the inner life are given eloquent expression. The word "Hasidism" comes from the Hebrew word "Hesed" which means lovingkindness. Hasidism at its core is about kindness, love, generosity and acceptance. I was lucky enough at the time I turned to yoga to find a school of yoga which takes these virtues as its core teachings and pedagogy: Anusara Yoga. Anusara is the Hasidism of the yoga world. It has provided me with an embodied vehicle for teaching the heart of Hasidism. Imagine my surprise to be a nearly 50-year old rabbi now training to be a yoga teacher as a way to share a spiritual core of the Jewish tradition!

Thank you for your program on yoga w/ seane corn. i've been practicising for about 30+ years, and now that i'm 61 i see the long term benefits. in fact, your program has inspired me to go into even deeper.

Thank you Krista. Like so many others, my experience is similiar to yours. I am grateful that this practice has helped you get out of your head and move from striving for perfection to experiencing life. And, your background of perfecting verbal and written communication is so useful in communicating to others the value of the path beyond perfectionism.

Another wonderful teacher in this area I'd like to recommend to you for a future program is Richard Rohr.

I was very close with Edith Epstein, my Hatha Yoga Teacher, and took her teachers training course, and over the years have endeavored to share her teachings and relaxations.

I would like to share with you and your staff her favorite relaxation:

http://video.google.com/videop...

We both were fortunate to have the same Guru, Rammurti S. Mishra , MD. What was remarkable about Dr. Mishra, and you'll find his bio in the ,pdf file, is that he gave up his career in Medicine to teach Sanskrit, Meditation, and Yoga. In November 1983, he suffered a major stroke and a series of heart attacks, and lost the use of the right side of his body and the ability to speak. Yet in little over a year later he recovered his voice to the point where he could teach one or two classes a day, which he did until the day he left his physical form in Sept. of 1993. Edith Epstein left the next year. While yoga and meditation books are available to many people, not all have had personal instruction or have been in the presence and vibration of the author.

In May of 93, four months before he passed on, I video taped four nights of Guruji's programs that were given in Plantation , Florida and posted them on Google Video.

http://video.google.com/videos...

So far the Google stats in less than a year have reached over 40,000 views. He always taught us,'Enlightenment is your very nature'.
The videos have considerble instruction and chanting from Dr. Mishra. He called Sanskrit the "Science of Vibration". His chanting is healing and purifies the mind and chakras, and listening to them can be of immense benefit. Some of the best things in life are free and meant to be shared. This is also in the spirit of the Internet. Swami Naranda often said, "Sharing is Caring". So many people these days suffer from stress,depression, worry, fear,and anxiety.These videos are a good beginning as well as an oasis on the path.

I also have posted a series of videos on Crystal Healing with Fire Ceremony:

http://video.google.com/videop...

Crystal Healing heals the mind and body, as well as purifies the athmosphere, and is a prayer for World Peace.

I also posted a number sitar concerts from Master Sitarist Roop Verma, www.roopverma.com :

http://video.google.com/videos...

I certainly hope these links and content will be of benefit to your listeners.

Thanks so much for your interview with Seane Corn, which I listened to last night. It was a fabulous way to start the week.

Krista, thank you so much for your interview with Seane Corn. I listened to the podcast last night as I walked around one of my favorite Minneapolis lakes, and I found the interview deeply peaceful, engaging and relevant to my own life. I especially appreciated Seane's struggle with OCD, and her insights that, as a girl, she used interesting, little "tools" to impose a sense of order when within she felt utterly unbalanced. I felt incredibly hopeful and renewed by Seane's experience of yoga to be a practice that cultivates true, wholistic, abiding balance...a balance that allows one to breathe through fear and anxiety until they pass...a balance that allows one to develop the strength to perceive things differently. Thank you again. I was so blessed to hear this interview.

When I read comments like "Confessions of a Yoga Convert", it frees up a lot of time in my life. Word people processing word people and posting their words as wisdom. Reinventing the wheel. Talking about body/mind unity for decades but essentially being clueless.
Yes, you have a body.
Yes, your goal list can be missing the point.
Why has it taken you this long and why did you feel you were the one to bring wisdom to others all these years?

Krista.... I just know you will be so intrigued and amazed by Sarah Powers. I do so hope you will contact her for an interview in her "Insight Yoga".

Carole Rodero

It was quite a surprise as an inveterate SoCal podcast listener of several years, to hear that the voice to which I ascribe so many qualities, such great serenity, intelligence, and calm, along with such tolerance and good humor has ever suffered with any kind of depression.
Krista, I am certain that many of us out here, if not all who come to know of your sadness or depression, are praying for, wishing in good heart, or meditating on the idea that you should never suffer again, especially after bringing to all of us such great insights into the peace and certainty of our own faith and spirituality. May you always be well and ever have that gentle laughter in your heart.

The original yoga was not a physical yoga, but a purely spiritual yoga. If you want to really read about the original yoga read the Bhagavad Gita and read the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna. Us Hindus laugh every time you talk about physical yoga. Most of us practice the spiritual yoga and bhakti yoga, which is devotional yoga, true communion with God. Bhakti is chanting and singing the name of God. It's called Kirtan music. Krishna was very practical and talked real life and how to change your life for the better. The physical yoga came way later. The original yoga is rarely spoken about by our society. I am an American Hindu who converted to Hinduism because of its practical application in every day life and having a real experience with Krishna. This the yoga we need to hear more about.

I would like to point out that the practice of various forms of yoga preceded the introduction of the Bhagavad Gita by atleast a couple of thousand years. Of all the various scriptures related to Hinduism, the Bhagavad Gita is one of the most recent. Perhaps introduced into the Mahabharata following the advent of Buddhism.

Yes, It is true it existed before that time, but was not compiled and explained as well as Krishna did.  My point is that it is a spiritual yoga first.  The physical aspects were an afterthought.  Kathie

Krista,
I have loved your show, your guests and your inquisitive and incisive style for years. You are a genius at many levels. I look forward to spending Sunday mornings listening to your radio show.

Your comment on how, through Yoga, you experienced a brief period of increased energy and decreased need for sleep (with a history of more prominent depressive symptoms) immediately reminded me of a classic description of hypomania in my bipolar patients.

I am a practicing internist. I do believe that meditation (with our without yoga) is one of the best tools for achieving mental peace and well being.

Your personal story and that of Parker Palmer are a very powerful support for my continued self discovery, via Yoga and other means.

Thank you.

I found the interview with sean corne incredibly inspiring. it actually brought tears to my eyes. my entire life i've struggled to find a way to make peace with my poor body, which has borne the burden of years of abuse and neglect while i struggled to heal myself emotionally. for the last 5 years or so i have finally been looking for ways to heal my body also, and have been astonished at how ... punishing the options are. 'your body is your enemy' seems to be the consensus - especially if you are fat or unhealthy or both. (of course, most people believe it impossible to be healthy if you are fat ... hmmm....) the interview with sean corn was so amazing. krista, you are so incredible at honoring people's real voices. so amazing how you respect those voices and treat them without fear, no matter what they may believe. i'm also inspired by your journal entry here about your own experience with yoga. inspired enough that i just bought seane corn's dvd! thanks. shea

Loved your confessions. I'm going to read the final paragraph to my yoga students on Sunday. Always looking for inspirational writing to share with them. Namaste---Ann

i've had chronic pain for years, and the last straw -- the almost-constant migraine headaches -- dictated that i quit working as an RN. i got on disability, but i still had migraines, other pain, and almost no energy. i was desperate when one day i heard a woman on APM, who said yoga had literally changed her life. so i went to my first yoga class and came home more relaxed, yet more energetic, than i'd felt in years. now i go 3 times a week. it's been 6 weeks now and i'm feeling incredible. yes, i still hurt, but i'm learning to do what matthew talked about -- detach. some cherokee people call it entering the spirit mind and leaving the body mind. the class i attend is a beginner's class, it's called "gentle restorative". and, thanks to the wonderful discussion between matthew and krista, i'm becoming more aware of all of the "space" in my body, filling it with breath and life and energy. one day i cried through the entire class. (now i bring tissues.) i've lost weight and that's not even the most important part. i could go on and on, but suffice it to say i'm 52 years old and i feel reborn. i'm planning to start a blog about my yoga experiences. i love all "SOF" shows, but the interview with matthew touched my heart and helped my own yoga practice. to say "thanks" would be an understatement! now i keep you both in my prayers. bless you both, and all staff who helped bring this show about. (and yes, i'm buying matthew's book.)
cindy, RN

There is a wordless unity between yoga practitioners. Both the novice and the experienced move with breath to find the balance that often cannot be shared with friends. I can feel my body and my energies move more in synch with others while on my mat than in many of my friendship circles. My social networks primarily feed from good natured competitions mixed with excessive noise (entertainment, consumerism) and I often feel that yoga is my blessing to my friends. I cannot sit in judgment and still breathe. And what is yoga without breath? I leave my yoga practice knowing that the other men and women in the room care as much as I about releasing toxic thought and instead, with that final "namaste" wordlessly bring peace into at least my little piece of the world.

Krista,
Tao Porchon Lynch is a 93 year old Yoga teacher in Weschester, NY. She is one of the oldest living Yoga masters. She is my teacher and has influenced many lives, like myself. If you ever do a program on Yoga please do consider talking to her. A gem to be shared with many.

Farah Khan.

I am so envious! Many people have written glowingly about their yoga practice, but you -- as always -- have such singular precision and elegance in describing exactly what this commitment has done for you. I would love to learn how to center my own thoughts in my body, relieving the weary cerebrum of its more impossible conundrums and dilemmas -- to temper my perfectionism and "let messy, inconsistent life be what it is"-- to "delight in my body," aging and cranky as it may be.

You have also encouraged and inspired me with programs such as the interview with the young man who teaches yoga though severely damaged by an automobile accident in early adolescence. My own disability descended on me in midlife, when spinal hardware implanted years earlier insidiously turned me into a genuine "hunchback" -- you know, the kind of person, formerly fairly decent-looking, who must suddenly accustom herself to horrified looks and sidewalk gaper's delays! (An estimated one million Boomers are expected to develop the same iatrogenic deformity, since the crippling, now-notorious Harrington rod was the gold standard in scoliosis treatment from the early 1960s to the late 1980s.) After undergoing a number of massive revision surgeries to break and remake my twisted spine, I am now fused all the way from T2 to S1.Were it not for "On Being"" I would still consider yoga impossible for someone like me. Your commentary on your own yoga practice reminds me that I must look for some modified version that even I might be able to do. Thank you for the reminder -- and thank you, also, for all that you have done through the years to infuse us 21st-century wayfarers with resurgent hope. Having sojourned in the land of fearsome despair yourself, in that age-old slough of despond, you bear admirable and persuasive witness to the reality of grace: to the possibility of transcendence, epiphany, even rebirth. I am so profoundly grateful for your wise, intelligent, empathic presence on the airwaves and in our lives.

apples