Sunday, December 9, 2018

Yoga after 50 and the end of midlelife crisis

Have you read the article in Elephant Journal, Yoga After 40 will kill you? I read it with a sense of nostalgia. Those were the days. Anyway, I am 53 and I practice Ashtanga yoga half primary, almost daily, and that makes me competent to write this article.

An unfortunate pitfall of being in the 50s is that you're at a high risk of getting disappointed and hurt by life. Maybe your life did let you down in certain aspects, kids are left, you're divorced, you are overweight, your sleep pattern is disturbed, you've started drinking a bit, you've started panicking about health issues, you've started asking yourself "is this all there is"...

After 50 you have reached maturity, you see that you cannot improve your reality, you can just lower your expectations. You have no hope that something better will come and you've realized that "expect the unexpected, believe in the unbelievable, and achieve the unachievable" is simple bullshit.

You're feeling as if you are unseen and unheard, although you still have hope but dammit if I know what you're hoping for. Elvis has left the building, you are feeling lifeless and lost and there’s none here to help you get through this crap except you.

If you are over 50, you should start challenging yourself by moving out of your comfort zone. The comfort zone is a killer. You've read enough inspirational quotes that encourage you to get out and do something strange, something you wouldn't normally do. So here it is, something perfect for you... YOGA.

There's actually a lot of science that explains why it's so hard to start and sustain yoga practice but don't bother, who believe in science anyway. This calls for strength, passion, determination and so much humor it hurts.

After 50, it's really important to push the boundaries of your common activities. Start your daily yoga practice but always wonder if it’s really about yoga? Always remember shit New Age girls say... Fake it until you achieve it.

I urge you to get out of your comfy couch and go to the downward dog. Your arms may be shaky. So what? Your belly might sways left, then right but eventually it'll settle into place. Pull it in. Remember your glorious 40s, oh well ... 30s.

Try to strengthen the legs.

Your hamstrings will protest, let's be forewarned, you will probably try to overstretch it until you get the muscle spasms. Try to scream, it may help. Keep holding downward dog pose. Push your arms through the middle finger, feel your palms... stay firm connected to the earth and breathe. WTF breathe my friend, with every breath, it is not going to be easier, just harder.

Suck your belly in!

Count the breaths, one, two, three... don't worry, you may take an anti-inflammatory drug after the practice so you can continue practicing tomorrow as well.

As far as I can tell your practice sucks, just as mine. You have to work out on your breathing, it is shallow. And you didn't even move from downward dog. Maybe one day you will learn to do jump-back and jump-through from this downward dog pose. Ah... Nah. Don't bother, you will never learn that.

When you reach five breaths or if you notice you gonna fell down, you stop. Get out of the downward dog and just stand. They call that Tadasana or mountain pose. Very important pose for people after 50s. You may hold Tadasana posture for 20 or 30 breaths. The variations are endless. What’s required is the willingness to keep standing, resist overwhelmed urge to lay down.

The great results of practicing yoga after 50 is a glorious condition of over-tiredness.

Most of the time you'll feel worse after practicing yoga. Yes, you are right, everyone else enjoyed the practice except you. Something wrong? You may practice for a month and you still cannot touch your toes. It made you feel inadequate. Yoga is a place where you don't feel good about yourself.

But nothing to worry about. Nothing better is awaiting you.

Oh, I forgot, after the practice, you may get neck, back, knee and shoulder pain. This doesn't include torn muscles, herniated disks, and carpal tunnel. Hey, listen to your own body, you will discover what hurts you, don’t assume that I know your body better than you do.

After 30 minutes of yoga practice, you'll look into the mirror and you'll no longer recognize yourself. After one month you'll have the desire to quit your job and do yoga for the rest of your life. After three months of practice, you'll start changing or investigating a new age philosophy.

Yes, maybe you're in menopause but your midlife crisis is over!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Are you taking life too seriously?

It's now very common to hear people say, "I'm rather offended by that." As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... then a whine. "I find that offensive." It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. "I am offended by that." Well, so fucking what. - Stephen Fry

Do you associate life with images of perfection? Like... perfect happiness in a perfect family with a plenty of sunshine and vegetables, with a perfect body doing even more perfect yoga asanas, and meditating in perfect green forest pursuing a wisdom to save the rest of humanity?

Are you living your life, waiting for the next moment to be better than this one? Well...

In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental health problem. By the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, 1 in 2 has, or have had, a mental illness. The terms "mental illness" refer to depression, anxiety, delusions... general dissatisfaction and disappointment.

Did you know that only 25% of women are able to reach orgasm during sexual intercourse? According to long-term studies, 50% of women have the orgasm once in a month, 20% once in a year, and 5% never have orgasms.

Can you imagine? 3 of 4 women can’t feel complete sexual pleasure and there is at least 1 of 4 who has never experienced an orgasm – even after decades of having sex.

No wonder that so many women over 40 have lost their desire for sex, have been emotionally abused and are fearful, or think that there is something wrong with them because they don’t feel the pleasure that they hear other women talk about.

The problem of orgasm is just a tip of the iceberg of modern living. I blame the orgasm problem to the fact that you take the life way too seriously.

Every day you are faced with traps that encourage you to take life seriously. You are faced with all kinds of frustrations, turning everyday situations into problems, constantly on the lookout for shit to complain about and worrying about a bunch of things that simply do not matter.

You are very sensitive, your ego is big and you cannot tolerate simple truth. You get offended by rain, by look, gesture, words... especially words. "I am feeling offended" is an epidemic spreading across the world and the problem of sexuality is the consequence.

And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re a carrier of the disease. It’s a mental condition whereby your ego grows up to the point where everything offends you. Symptoms may include hurt feelings, indignation, irritability, disappointment, grumpiness and an all-around allergic reaction to anyone who says or does something you don’t like. In one word - seriousness.

You try, you think, you plan, you work, and then there is no achievement. The thing that you desire never happens, it never comes. If life was a static, fixed thing - not dynamic and flowing - then you could achieve what you wanted, but then life would be a death. Life is life because it is dynamic, changing. You cannot predict its course, it is unpredictable. It is dynamic and flowing - always flowing nowhere.

If you are serious, then you cannot flow. Then you are frozen inside; then you become just a dead stone. Then there are resistances around you. You cannot melt, you cannot change as life changes. You have a fixed pattern, a fixed shape, and because of that shape you will resist change. Then you are not flowing with life, you are struggling against it. Seriousness creates frozen-ness, and frozen-ness creates struggle. 

- Life is Not Serious, Osho

The grand cosmic joke is that there is nowhere to go and nothing to do. You fool yourself for waiting. The life that you're having at this moment is all there is. This is it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Yoga Teacher Training & Workshops Scam!

Yoga teacher trainings has become a huge pyramid scheme, teaching wannabes yoga instructors for thousands of dollars with the promise that they will in turn make a good income. The reality is that as the yoga teachers they will not generate enough revenue even for the basic needs.

Yoga "teachers" do not need to be certified, credentialed or attend any special "training" to instruct yoga, however most of yoga studios are looking for an RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) through the Yoga Alliance.

Eager yoga students passionate about their practice and wanting to progress to teaching are forced to take expensive "teacher trainings" to qualify to be "certified" as a yoga teacher. They then have to register with the Yoga Alliance, paying a fee to maintain their "RYT" teacher status.

And the Yoga Alliance (a non-profit organization) is doing pretty well because of it, the organization reported revenue of over $4 million in 2017, which represents a 30-percent increase over the millions generated in 2016.

Yoga is a big business but don't expect to became rich so fast. Yoga teachers are typically paid per class, from my experience in Toronto, starting around $25 per class. This fluctuates where you are in the city, at gyms versus yoga studios and by the teacher's experience. Some studios pay per student in class, again, from my experience around $5 per student.

Private yoga sessions can be anywhere from $35-$150 per one hour – again depending on so many things. Yoga teacher celebrities, of course, make much more.

There's money being made, but it may not be by you as a yoga teacher – you must own a studio and have this offering of "teacher trainings."

A sad "Bikram" story.

Today, the famous hot yoga guru, Bikram, is seen as a disgusting sexual predator, a narcissist, a yoga charlatan etc... But to be quite honest, most yoga practitioners know nothing of the man, only his yoga sequence. So really who was Bikram?

Bikram Choudhury was a yoga guru who has built Bikram Yoga empire. At its peak in 2006, Bikram had 650 yoga studios worldwide. Only Bikram could approve a teaching license or studio application. He created corporate franchise that allowed him to go after his "teacher training" female students.

And he did. He has been accused of a range of sexual misconduct, including rape and settled millions of dollars' worth of civil suits, and a list of a half dozen women have come forward with open allegations against him. But at the same time, he gave the U.S. a great solution for how to make the human body healthier.

Bikram yoga was so popular, effective, exotic and authentic. He selected a sequence that worked every muscle of physical body, every organ, every bone, and he turned on the heat to allow the body to loosen faster.

The first Bikram studio was opened in San Francisco, sometime in 1973, then another one Beverly Hills, and another one, and another... Over the next decade, he was expanding the business and the teacher trainings. It was a fitness revolution.

Since discovering the original form of hot yoga six years ago, Bikram has been the one constant in my life. Cities, jobs, and boyfriends have all come and gone—but Bikram has been my rock. There are few things in life that make me happier. -  Monika Pietrowski

No one challenged his authority. He was viewed as a guru meant to be followed. The business of Bikram Yoga continued. At it's pick of popularity Bikram charged over $10,000 per student to attained his teacher training. In one single teacher training he earned over $4 millions dollars.

Yoga supposed to be a contemplative and spiritual endeavor, but Bikram never was, and never even pretended to be spiritual. He drank Coca-Cola, ate fast food, wore a Rolex. And no one noticed the clear signs of corruptions...

This is a real scandal and such a shame. I started Bikram classes four or five years ago and find them so effective and therapeutic. I'm 72 years old now and put a lot of my fitness and good health down to these classes. Choudry seems evil and my local studio has changed its name and approach. In the end of the day its just 26 asanas in heat with classes 7 days a week 6 times a day. No booking, just turn up and get fit. This is the really attraction for me... not the spiritual stuff. - Tony Mort

Here the story ends. How Bikram finished you can read here...The rise and fall of Bikram, a famous hot yoga guru.

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You will be established in daily practice and technique for the principle postures of the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series. You will learn classic yogic breathing techniques, the traditional method of Sanskrit Vinyasas counting and fundamental applied anatomy. You will study classic Yoga Philosophy as per Patanjali and learn safe hands-on adjustments of key postures from the Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga.

Tuition: $4250
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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Take a quiz... What type of ashtangi you are?

I read today on an Ashtanga forum about the "circus" that surrounds Sharath's workshops. It was an honest and personal view of today's ashtanga world.

I wonder is that such a thing as "ashtanga community"? This large led-primary workshops are a great money-making machines for advanced teachers. They say, the workshops are good to connect them (teachers) with students and this is supposed to create some form of community. So probably such thing do exist.

When I first started ashtanga yoga, back in 2006, I really loved the "communal" aspect of practicing, well, meeting with “my kind of people". However, after a few years I discovered that I really was not so much "commune" type of a person. I am more content doing a daily home practice. I occasionally like going to drop-in classes with my teacher.

It was only at my home that I could invoke a meditative aspect of ashtanga yoga - conquer my racing mind, focus on the breath, and fully experience all of my body’s sensations.

In classes, large or small, the competitive nature and drive to progress is unavoidable.

Three Types of Ashtangis Today

I am very sorry to read these words about Sharath's ashtanga workshops but I am not so surprised. I am hoping you who read this are able to use your judgements, step back and see the positive of the workshop experience, to look others and yourself, your feelings, and to find a way to be grateful for the good fortune in life to attend the workshop.

There are 3 types of ashtangis today. Take a quiz, which type you belong? :)

First, there are ashtangis who do not respect Sharath and his teaching. They belong to "underground" ashtanga community. They are trained by Guruji itself or his most senior students, David Svenson, Mark Darby, Chuck Miller and many others "old school" guys... and of course, Manju Jois.

Manju is Guruji’s eldest son and I’m surprised by how often he gets overlooked when students talk about the Jois family.

Manju teaches in the old way, the way he learned from his father, before there were hundreds of students waiting to get into the shala. He encourages students to mix first and second series, to do as many postures as they have the energy for and rarely tells them to stop. He teaches that we must listen to ourselves to know to do pose modification and to continue to the end.

This is the one of the beautiful things about the original Guruji's old school teaching method. It teaches us how to listen, feel, and explore. It connects us to our intuition and it is not a rule book which tells us what and how much to practice each day.

Second type of ashtangis today are those who make a "circus" around Sharath and call him Paramaguru. They are dedicated practitioners of ashtanga yoga, regularly making trips to Mysore and hoping that one day they will became certified in ashtanga yoga.

The investment of time and money combined with the shattering of months/years of expectations, I must say, must be extremely disappointing. is a relatively new wellness website dedicated to Paramaguru Sharath Jois. They are helping people improve their lives through yoga, workouts, guided meditations, healthy recipes, pain prevention techniques, and all kinds of life advice...

The third type of ashtangis today are those who neither give a shit about Sharath nor about "old school" teachers. They are focused only on practice without much involvement in ashtanga community.

Despite differences in old versus new ashtanga yoga schools, the vinyasas, the central tenets of breath, bandhas, and drishti remain at the core of our practice. This is what unite us. The ashtanga practice have stayed pure and almost unchanged for the last 25 years.

There is no “a method” or “best method.” There are many approaches that, when practiced with correct intention, can all lead to greater health and happiness.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Like It Or Not... Ashtanga Yoga Is a Spiritual Practice!

99% practice, 1% theory

Can you practice Ashtanga Yoga without spiritual goal on your mind? 

Can you go 6 times a week on the mat without thinking of awakening? I don't know. I believe this might not be true but on another hand what is the life about? Is the main goal in life to gain self-realization or so popularly called enlightenment or awakening?

What you actually do when you step on the yoga mat, knowing that or not, is that you search for Your Natural State. It is a state of great sensitivity of being awake, not some kind of emotional compassion or tenderness for others. I digress, yes, there is compassion only in the sense that there are no 'others' for you, and so there is no separation.

Whenever you step on the mat, you are actually interested in enlightenment, and the Ashtanga yoga practice creates the experience, and the experience strengthens practice. The practitioner is nothing but the practice. That is really what's going on.

Bear in mind that there is no such thing as truth. The only thing that is actually here is your logical premise, which you call truth. In Ashtanga practice, you may discover that there is only one solid thought. When you count five breaths in a pose you may clearly see or feel the "I" thought. Everything exists is in relation to that one thought. That thought is 'you' and it doesn't really exist. You will understand that anything you experience based on that thought is the illusion.

99% practice and 1% theory is the key to awakening.

Practicing Ashtanga yoga, which is boring, dull and hard, does not allow you creativity and wishful thinking. It calls for a complete and total surrender. It is the practice of hopelessness which says that there is no way out... Asana, breath, drishti and vynasas are taking you away from yourself...

Food, clothing, and shelter- these are the basic needs. Beyond that, if you want anything, it is the beginning of self-deception. You see that so clearly in daily Ashtanga practice. Ashtanga yoga is selfish practice. So be selfish and stay selfish is my message. Wanting enlightenment is selfishness.

Obviously, you are not in conflict with the society. Ashtanga yoga force you to accept it as it is and you're not interested in changing it. The demand to bring about a change in illusion isn't there anymore. So, the demand to change the world at large is not there. You suffer with the suffering man and you are happy with the happy man... practicing Ashtanga yoga.

Ashtanga yoga saved you from the very idea that you have to be saved. When you know nothing, you say a lot. When you know something, there is nothing to say. I am always emphasizing that somehow the truth has to dawn upon you that there is only the practice and there is nothing to understand.

What I am trying to say is that by the practice of Ashtanga you will see for yourself that there is no individual there at all. There is only a certain gathering of knowledge, which are thoughts surrounding the basic "I" thought, but no individuality there.

Some of you mistakenly believe that by practicing ashtanga you will somehow miraculously make your life simple and manageable. But, if you are lucky, you will discover that you are not created for any grander purpose than the ants that are there or the flies that are hovering around you or the mosquitoes that are sucking your blood.

Ashtanga yoga takes away the fear that makes you believe that you are living and that you will be dead. What you really want in life is this fear to come to an end. That is why you have involved in all these meditation classes, becoming vegan, reading spiritual articles and talks, accepting various therapies for choice-less awareness and various other gimmicks.

Ashtanga is a very boring practice. And the boredom is a bottomless pit. As long as you think that there is something more interesting, more purposeful, more meaningful in ashtanga than what you are actually doing, you have no way of freeing yourself from boredom.

Ashtanga returns you to the basics... everything you have around you is the creation of your thoughts. You are yourself born out of thought, otherwise, you would not be here at all. Thoughts have a tremendous value, yet it is the very thing that should be destroyed.

Good luck. 😍