21 May 2012

Hot yoga fusion, green smoothies

Hot yoga, green smoothies and reading books on management and leadership - these three things have ushered in the beginning of a new life phase. 

Hot Yoga

Yoga Fusion opened up quite recently in my neighborhood - my first sighting was when i pulled up at the lights next to a little red car ablaze with the name and logo. I went home and googled Yoga Fusion. The 'Barken' method it said. Studio heated by Far Infrared Radiant heat, an air-exchange system and anti-microbial mats. I'd never heard of the Barkan method but it sounded suspiciously like a weak derivative of Bikram fused with high tech mumbo jumbo. 

Having been to about eight classes now, I would describe it as a hybrid of Bikram, Iyengar and Ashtanga. And I'm loving it.

The introductory offer sucked me in: $19 for 10 days unlimited classes (the normal charge is $19 for one class).   Now I wouldn't pay $19 for a yoga class anywhere with anyone, not even Iyengar or Patthabi Jois, or Tim, Ana, Shiva, Seane, Gregor, Shandor, or Krishnamacharya for that matter, but $19 for 10 days of unlimited classes seemed like great value and an opportunity to get me into daily practice.    I squeezed in 5 classes over those 10 days and certainly got value for my money. 

Over the last 2 weeks I've been to eight classes and taken a surprising liking to this Y generation hot yoga thing.   Who would have thought?????

On day 10 I signed up for Yoga Fusion's second introductory offer, $99 for one month unlimited classes (only available when purchased within the first 10 day offer of course). So now I have a month of hot yoga classes ahead of me, and then I'll probably be done with it. 

The main teacher at this studio is a very warm, funny, intelligent woman who has obviously been studying, practising and teaching for quite a while. She has a wonderful sense of humour and a particularly grounded spiritual approach that is effortlessly communicated through her clear and assertive delivery. She speaks about chakras, energy, the human condition, setting intention, and observing the mind, all interspersed into a sweaty workout. She is a wonderful teacher with that rare gift of injecting human spirituality into her yoga classes and keeping it gritty and real.

In a brief conversation after a class last week she explained how the hot yoga fad attracts the younger generation and her mission is to introduce them to the traditional concepts behind yoga practice through the hot and sweaty workout. She is planting seeds, and spreading dharma.

The tricky thing about these hot yoga classes is that I mistakenly think I've done a massive workout - I emerge from class with a beetroot red face, drenched and dripping sweat, and on a high - it's extreme. In reality I've done one hour of very basic yoga, pretty tame by my standards: some slow vinyasas, a series of warrior poses, beginner backbends then supine stretches and twists. I haven't done anything aerobic to heat up my body yet I'm sweating profusely and the mind translates that as a massive workout.

But I'm enjoying these classes for now because:

- there are no pretensions, just get down, do the work, then leave

- the poses don't aggravate my back and hips

- the sweating does feel like it cleanses my system

- my vitality and energy levels have increased

- I feel 'brighter'

- I respect the teacher for her honesty, integrity, knowledge and how she communicates

- there's an opportunity to express grace through the movements

- I can be anonymous

- this teacher brings depth to the delivery (unlike the artificial Bikram dog barking instructions)

- the 6 o'clock classes are short (75 minutes), convenient, and close to work so its easy to incorporate them into my daily routine 

- being a social rebel and free thinker I can judge this kind of yoga on it's individual merits, unbiased by popular opinion (eg. hot yoga is a fad and it's an insult to the real thing, well I'm happy to disagree after years of yoga purity and snobbiness!!!)

So for the next month I'll be doing at least 3 hot yoga classes a week, having a bit of fun, and working out with the under 25s. They come in pairs or trios, wear makeup, shorts and crop tops to class, check their mobile phones as soon as they finish the class, shower then head off to nightclubs. Most of them find the classes really hard and take rests when they collapse, the teacher allows this, no pressure, do what you can....

After my month is up, I'll settle back into my own solitary practice and see what has changed.

Green Smoothies

I glance over the imposing black Vitamix now taking up most of my tiny kitchen space as i make my morning coffee.

I should make another green smoothie to take to work for lunch.

Have to start varying the ingredients so i don't get bored with it, maybe add some ginger or mint, some super foods, different fruit perhaps... 

Normally I'd throw two pieces of fruit into my bag for lunch, minimal effort, keep it simple. My new morning routine now includes chopping up fruit and greens, making a big noise, pouring and cleaning. It takes time and effort.

But I can definitely feel the health benefits of the green smoothies - my physical energy is more clear and light, my mind is less heavy, my general state is more positive and happy. Given the shift in my life and all the changes, I shouldn't attribute my state of body and mind solely to the green smoothies, but I do know they are contributing to this lovely light feeling of joyfulness that is pouring through me.


Taking on this new job involves managing a team of four people who have been wounded by poor management and low morale.

How to motivate and enthuse them, so they enjoy coming to work.

A handy little book I'm dipping into every morning is '101 ways to motivate others' by Steve Chandler. The management and leadership techniques are not unlike Buddhist practices - they have integrity, authenticity, empathy and compassion.  It's about connecting intimately and honestly with other human beings and giving them the power and opportunity to become more than they believe is possible.  To do this takes great personal integrity - you have to walk your talk and be a shining example.

After 15 years or so of deep inner exploration and reflection, disciplined practice, purification, self study, mystical experiences, meditation, solitude, communion, I'm genuinely ready to actively engage in the marketplace. The ripening of an entire life cycle has occurred.  The solitary cave is no longer necessary; instead I am being drawn into the bright light of day, to give freely the fruits of my spiritual practice, to shine my unique light upon people's lives, to serve...with love.

8 May 2012

Xavier Rudd

Been listening non stop to Xavier Rudd's 'Solace' album lately, and waiting patiently for his new album Spirit Bird to be released in a few weeks.
Here's a bit about him; musician, surfer, environmentalist, traveller, spiritual seeker, one man band...

Watching this video Follow the Sun from his new album makes me feel blessed to live in this beautiful country.
Thank you Xavier.

Xavier Rudd (born 1978) is a soulful Australian surf/roots artist from Torquay, Victoria, which is near the famous surfing location, Bells Beach.

Rudd’s music is compassionate and always manages to render emotion in his fans. His songs include stories of the mistreatment of the indigenous people of his homeland; they tell of humanity, spirituality or the environment. The songs are written and sung with compassion and they urge the celebration of life.

Rudd is skilled with a variety of instruments, include guitar, shaker, didgeridoo, Weissenborn slide guitar, Tongue drum, stomp boxe, djembe, harmonica, ankle bells, and slide banjo. It’s an experience to watch him perform his songs live, as he plays the guitar, digeridoo and various percussion instruments simultaneously, using a unique stage setup. But the real magic comes when he opens his mouth and his soulful voice spills upon his audience.