Yoga Boot Camp


Sometimes I fantasize about leading a yoga class. To be clear, I don’t really want to, because there’s too many people to deal with. And all those problems!


Yet, every now and then, I imaging leading a class.  And my style of teaching is more like a traditional drill instructor. Maybe something like this:

“You are now in yoga boot camp!” I say.

“None of that spiritual nonsense for you lazy, good for nothing boys! (FYI, it’s a class of all adult men.) Give me a tadasana, for the love of mike, not a single one of you are doing it right. If you’re not sweating in 2 minutes, you’re doing it wrong. Stand there anyway, I’ll correct you later.

For those of you who don’t understand, we’re going to start with an AUM. This isn’t for you spiritual types, this is you shaking loose those things in your head that help you balance. You want to balance, don’t you?

I am not going to sit you on my knee and explain harmonics, musical vibrations, and resonant cavities. This is not physics class. You will give me an AUM, you will make it loud, you will make it proud, and there will be three of them. Understand?

“Then do it!”  Yes, that’s what I would say.

Anyway, imagine a whole class like that. Of course it would settle down quickly. A strenuous but short vinyassa sequence, followed by a couple of intense Iyengar style holds. Then a quick “master class” on a particular pose, followed by a few inversions, sarvangasana, possibly a restorative pose if we have time, then savasana (mandatory). We finish up with another 3 AUMs and that’s it.

Hurry, registration ends soon! Look forward to seeing you there. Remember, this is hard hitting yoga that doesn’t shy away from 8 limbs or anything else. This is yoga for the Iron Man.

See you there…
… in my dreams!


Aum Versus Om

Little word with a big sound.Is it possible to turn my yoga class into a battlefield?

Sure!  Why not?  After all, as a writer, we have absolute power.  Don’t let it go to your head, however.

So, what’s the story?

The story is one of Aum.  Or Om, depending on who you listen to.

I’ve been doing this long enough to notice that some people like saying “Oh-mmm” as if it were two sounds.

Then there’s the peeps who enjoy saying it as if it were more sounds.  At least three.  Maybe five.  Maybe ten.

According to the guy at the bottom of this post, you should try and say every possible vowel sound.  Sweet.

According to many of the masters, including BKS, you should hear three.

Then again, according to my teacher, it’s alright to stick the “AU” together into an “O” sound.

Who’s right?

Everyone is “right” in the sense that each person is doing it the way THEY want.  If there was some great social cause in which the sound of AUM made a difference, then we could have a more logical discussion.  Since there are no external, quantifiable objectives, then this becomes a discussion about BEHAVIOR.

Part of the issue is that people like changing things, sometimes simply to have fun or be different.  This lends itself to something linguists call linquistic drift.

Let’s check out history.  Let’s look at videos of the old people saying it.  Let’s visit all around the world and compare.  Collect lots of data, find out that it is said many different ways.  And then what?

Look at the impact of what it DOES.  Are there bona fide physical implications about this “word” and how it’s pronounced?  (Disclaimer, there are, but that’s another column.)

How does it impact the preferences of the person arguing the issue?  Fact is, if it’s important to them, no matter what the reason (for now) then that’s a factor.

Finally, how does this impact every possible combination of people?  Starting with that one person, to that person’s partner and family, to that person’s neighborhood, to their country, and to humanity as a whole.  How does this behavior impact each of those different configurations of “peopleness?”

There you have it.  A way to answer OM versus AUM.  Personally I’m going for what this guy says below.  But getting the “right” answer to the question?  It’s the same process for AUM as it would be for capital punishment, or trading off democracy for autocracy.

That’s what science is all about.  Consistency of methods in understanding the universe around us.  And that concludes today’s practice.




This excerpt from Bill Moyers site  (bottom of that page)
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Well, that’s what people are doing all over the place. That’s what people are doing all over the place, dying for metaphors. And when you really realize the sound Aum, the sound of the mystery of the Word everywhere, then you don’t have to go out and die for anything, because it’s right there all around, and just sit still and see it and experience it and know it.
BILL MOYERS: Explain “Aum.” That’s the first time you’ve used that.
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Well, “Aum” is a word that, what can I say, represents to our ears that sound of the energy of the universe, of which all things are manifestations. And “Aum”, it’s a wonderful word, it’s written A-U-M. You start in the back of the mouth, Ah, and then, Ooh, you fill the mouth, and M-m-m, closes it, the mouth. And when you have pronounced this properly, all vowel sounds are in that pronunciation: “Aum”. And consonants are regarded simply as interruptions of “Aum”, and all words are thus fragments of “Aum”, as all images are fragments of the form of forms, of which all things are just reflections. And so “Aum” is a symbol, a symbolic sound, that puts you in touch with that throbbing being that is the universe.
And when you hear some of these Tibetan monks that are over here from the Rgyud Stod monastery outside of Lhasa, when they sing the “Aum,” you know what it means, all right That’s the zoom of being in the world. And to be in touch with that and to get the sense of that, that is the peak experience of all. “Ab-ooh-mm.” The birth, the coming into being, and the solution to the cycle of that. And it’s just called the four-element syllable. What is the fourth element? “Ah-ooh-mm,” and the silence out of which it comes, back into which it goes, and which underlies it.
Now, my life is the “Ah-ooh-mm,” but there is a silence that underlies it, and that is what we would call the immortal. This is the mortal, and that’s the immortal, and there wouldn’t be this if there weren’t that.
BILL MOYERS: The meaning is essentially wordless.
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Yes. Well, words are always qualifications and limitations.
BILL MOYERS: And yet, Joe, all we puny human beings are left with is this miserable language, beautiful though it is, that falls short of trying to describe…
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: That’s right And that’s why it’s a peak experience to break past all that every now and then, to realize “oh, ah,” I think so.


Yoga and Active Asana


Getting into yoga means different things to everyone.  For most Americans, it means going into a hot room with lots of other beautiful people, moving about rather quickly.  Women in yoga pants, men without shirts, and lots of sweat.

For others, it can mean slow quiet movements, focusing on precise tuning of each muscle and muscle group so that internal stresses are in balance.  Sweat is optional, endurance and concentration are not.

However, if we go to what the original yoga master said about “sitting postures” it reads something like this:

I think...

And it made me realize something.

If I want to go for a long walk, or even a run…

Or if I want to jump rope, or do some crunches…

… I can still meet this definition of an asana.

Breathing?  Heart rate?  Concentration?

That’s right.  Up to a certain point, I can be doing all these crazy “aerobic” exercises and still be doing yoga.  Why not?

True confessions.  Let’s face it.  I’m a self-pusher.  I’m not happy unless I go a little bit harder, a little bit further, every time I exercise.  So after a while I’m not doing yoga anymore – I’m running, or jumping, or crunching.  And I’m probably grunting, breathing hard, and sweating.  Definitely sweating.

That’s not the point.  Even these non-sitting non-peaceful postures can themselves be yoga.  In point of fact, no single exact posture is called out by the ancient yoga masters.  Nada.

Everything we are doing today is an add-on invention.  And that’s a good thing.

So if you come up with an asana that works for you, use it.  Work it.  Own it.

As long as you can do it with precision, concentration, and peace, it’s yoga.

Enjoy it while you can, because the more you enjoy it, the longer you can enjoy it.

It’s time for me to jump some rope.


Aum Diaries 3

Aum… Aum… Aum…

What is it about this sound?  Is it supposed to be AUM or Ohmmmm?

Looks like a 30 with eyebrow problems.I’m a big believer in the A-U-M variety.

In fact, who cares what sound you make  Just make something.  It sounds good no matter how you say it.

I’m going through BKS Iynegar’s book called Light on Yoga.

In his AUM section there’s a story at the end, one of those zennish type stories.  It goes like this:

Taking as a bow the great weapon of the Upanisad, one should put upon it an arrow sharpened by meditation.  Stretching it with a thought directed to the essence of That, penetrate the Imperishable as the ark, my friend.  The mystic syllable AUM is the bow.  The arrow is the Self (Atma).  Brahman is the target.  By the undistracted man is It penetrated.  One should come to be in It, as the arrow in the mark.

Any ideas, class?

So, I’m not exactly sure what it’s all supposed to mean, but it sounds cool and I’m going to let it stand.  Love to hear your opinions.

Now go make some noise.





Aum Diaries 2

Aum… Aum… Aum…

Have you tried a yoga class where they make you do an AUM?

Or does it go Ohmmmm?

Looks like a 30 with eyebrow problems.I’m a big believer in the A-U-M variety.

Maybe someday there will be a war over how to pronounce it.

At the moment, I’m not going to care..  It sounds good no matter how you say it.

I’m going through BKS Iynegar’s book called Light on Yoga.

In his AUM section there’s all sorts of triads that the three letters are supposed to represent.  That’s nice, and I’m not going to make a big deal out of it.

But there’s also something big that each triad represents.  You can go to the last post for the triads.  Here I’m just jotting down the big stuff.  Here’s the triads:

  1. speech, mind, and breath, or
  2. length, breadth and depth, or
  3. absence of desire, fear, and anger, or
  4. masculine, feminine, and neuter, or
  5. sattva, rajas, and tamas, or
  6. past, present, and future, or
  7. teachings of mother, father, and Guru,
  8. or asana, pranayama, and pratyahara, or
  9. Creator, Maintainer, and Destroyer, or
  10. the mantra Tat Twam Asi meaning “That Thou Art”

Now, here’s the big stuff:

  1. All Conscious States, (very similar to number 9)
  2. Living Spirit,
  3. Divinity,
  4. Perfect (Hu)Man
  5. Creation
  6. Gunatitas
  7. Creator,
  8. Self Knowledge,
  9. Samadhi, (very similar to number 1)
  10. Brahman,
  11. Realization of Self Divinity

That seems like quite a bit to load onto a single sound, doesn’t it?

It’s still just a sound.

Let’s focus.