For Thanksgiving, Tim Miller on gratitude

A good piece to read today, if you haven’t already gotten to it. Tim Miller’s blog post for the week:

The expression of Gratitude is the first step to creating a Spiritual Life.  Webster’s Dictionary defines Gratitude as:  “An appreciative awareness and thankfulness, as for kindness shown or something received.”  Gratitude is the appreciative response to the recognition that we live in a Universe that is both created and sustained through Divine Light and Love, and that we are receptacles for these Divine Gifts as long as we have Faith in and are receptive to Divine Influence.  When we express Gratitude we are expressing our Faith in the inherent Goodness and Perfection of the Universal Intelligence, and by so doing we open ourselves to the certainty of Divine Grace entering our lives.  When we practice Ashtanga Yoga, we always begin with a prayer of thanks to all the Gurus who have come before us to show us the way—“Vande gurunam charanara vinde”.  It is this attitude of Gratitude that allows us to approach the practice with humility and receptivity, and ensures that our practice will be beneficial to both one’s self and others.

Read more at the link, and have a happy and fulfilling Thanksgiving (even those who might be reading from places that don’t celebrate it).

Posted by Steve

What are you thankful for this year?

We’ll get a little ahead of the curve and ask the question of the week: What are you thankful for this year? It can be Ashtanga-related, but doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t even have to be yoga-related, really. Although that probably would help.

One answer might be: Not getting caught up in online debates about others quitting or not quitting Ashtanga.

And in keeping with the theme, here’s a whole bushel of vegetarian recipes for Thursday. Plus a piece about the militant vegetarianism in Mumbai.

Posted by Steve

Giving thanks, and things to read

Here’s perhaps a new way to think about the Thanksgiving holiday: “the most Jupiterian of all holidays, always falling on a Thursday.”

That, if you’re an astute reader, you realize is from Tim Miller, who knows some about the heavens (and gurus). The holiday and the practice of Ashtanga further conflate:

Thanks Giving gives us the key to activating Jupiter’s power—we express our gratitude for what we receive both materially and spiritually and this keeps the flow of Grace showering down upon us from the heavens.  When we practice yoga, tradition dictates that we always begin by taking a moment to offer our gratitude to all of the Gurus who have come before us and to humbly ask for their assistance in our ongoing journey:

Surely you know what comes next?

You’ll have to read Tim’s post (I’ve given you two chances now) to find out what he’s grateful for this year. It just might surprise you. (I’m officially skeptical of the very thing for which he is grateful; I guess one isn’t always 100% in line with the guru.)

I also feel compelled to mention something you’ve probably already seen. Eddie Stern has created a new Facebook page — I guess he maxed out on the number of friends for his personal page — and he’s been posting a lot of terrific stuff, much of it directly related to Guruji. An example:

Guruji on the perfection of yoga: “The ancient rishis of India said the practice of yoga takes as long to master as it takes for you to empty the oceans by a dipping a stick into them and trying to take a little water out.”(NYC, 2005) Sounds to me like a perfect recipe for surrendering all efforts!

If you haven’t already liked it, you can go right here and do so. And if you want to like our Facebook page, you can do so here (while I’m on the topic). We’re also on that Twitter thing.

Anyway, Happy (early) Thanksgiving. I’m sure we’ll get something up on the holiday, but still… for those ahead of us as the world turns, we’re getting close to the holiday.

Posted by Steve

The yoga you need for that post-Thanksgiving belly

Chances are, we indulged a little on Thursday, although — sadly (added *sigh* for emphasis) — not as much as years past.

Perhaps you will be, too.

And so, once you are able to extract yourself from the floor, your food coma stupor passed, you’ll need to do some yoga. Right?

Well, I guess this is the perfect one:

What I like best about this — the setting is a close second — is this part of the video’s description: “Yoga Weight Loss & Balance Workout is a short but powerful series of authentic Yoga poses that are designed to stretch and strengthen key muscle groups, burn fat, and improve balance for a lean and toned body.”

That’s right, “authentic Yoga poses.” Anyone want to argue about whether yoga needs to be capitalized? Yeah, you thought I was going to go off on “authentic.”

Too easy a target.

We hope you’ve had a safe holiday and that it has provided moments of meaningful reflection.

Posted by Steve

8 reasons I’m not thankful for yoga

First off, two things need to be very clear:

  1. I abhor lists like this one. They are the laziest forms of blog posts imaginable, a virtual perversion of the longstanding and lazy staple of magazines that promise the “FIVE fastest ways to a flat belly” etc. I promise I will be punishing myself severely for doing this one.
  2. I realize that on top of that, I’m “trolling” a little — running counter to the flood of what I’m thankful for posts on blogs and Facebook, etc. They already were appearing on Tuesday, if not earlier. And I saw a lot that included “yoga” (because of my list of friends, of course; I’m sure somewhere else on the Facebook people were thankful for their whiskey and guns). So I’ll admit to tweaking the “I love yoga” idea a bit, but at the same time I swear that there is a bit of sincerity in each of the following.

And now that we’re done with that list, on to the the eight reasons I’m not thankful for yoga:

  1. On Thanksgiving, I don’t get to enjoy myself like I should. My diet’s too restricted. I know how much I’ll pay for overindulging. The old, wonderful road of excess just isn’t as much fun anymore. And I blame you, Ashtanga. Heck, this is true through the holidays… and through the rest of the year, too.
  2. I’m constantly faced with my own limitations. Barely able to touch my toes. Inability to quiet the mind. A breath that sounds like its coming from an asthmatic Rhesus monkey. I get enough of my own frailties in my regular old life, let alone in a practice I’m choosing to suffer through / do. I know this all already. Why am I adding insult to injury?
  3. Speaking of injury … my back hurts. Yes, an injury complaint! We’ve all been there, right?
  4. The obvious ones: Getting up early, going to bed early. Life’s no party.
  5. All the positive talk, inspiration quotes, etc. etc. These drive my cynical, sarcastic, ironic self into bouts of cynicism, sarcasm and irony. I just can’t believe life’s that nice and easy. If it were, we wouldn’t need yoga.
  6. That I just wrote “we … need yoga.”
  7. Russell Brand.
  8. And, finally… I can’t just indulge in me. Why am I trying to be a better person? I blame the first couple limbs of Ashtanga.

Posted by Steve

Mercury day poetry: Thanksgiving, Jupiter, gurus and too much wine

This week, we look one day into the future for inspiration for our poetry choice.

We’re going with “Thanksgiving Time,” by Langston Hughes. It’s from 1921:

When the night winds whistle through the trees and blow the crisp brown leaves a-crackling down,
When the autumn moon is big and yellow-orange and round,
When old Jack Frost is sparkling on the ground,
It’s Thanksgiving Time!

When the pantry jars are full of mince-meat and the shelves are laden with sweet spices for a cake,
When the butcher man sends up a turkey nice and fat to bake,
When the stores are crammed with everything ingenious cooks can make,
It’s Thanksgiving Time!

When the gales of coming winter outside your window howl,
When the air is sharp and cheery so it drives away your scowl,
When one’s appetite craves turkey and will have no other fowl,
It’s Thanksgiving Time!

Adding to the Thanksgiving vibe is Tim Miller’s weekly post:

Thanksgiving is the most Jupiterian of all the holidays, falling on a Thursday (Jupiter’s day) just after the Sun’s annual entry (by Western reckoning) into Sagittarius, a sign operating under Jupiter’s authority and jurisdiction.  Jupiter has full possession of the Sacred Wisdom and is compassionate in his attempts to guide us on the path of Dharma.


As if basking in the atmosphere of one’s loving family and enjoying amazing food and wine weren’t enough, on Thanksgiving Day we have one of the most wonderful of all planetary aspects, Venus Trine Neptune.  This transit inspires us to act with great tenderness and compassion towards others, expressing Selflessness and Spiritual Love.  The one danger of this dreamy Venus and Neptune combo is to make us believe that we are highly evolved spiritual beings when we’ve really just had too much wine.

That’s a good reminder that Bobbie and I need to get down to see Tim before we head to India.

Posted by Steve

Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s a few things I’m thankful for

This one is in some order… and in groups of four, for some reason…

Bobbie, my parents, family, friends … the practice, our shala, Jörgen, my fellow early morning practitioners … Timji, Carol, Holly, Leigha … Maria, Darius, Pedro, Kayoko … Mt. Shasta friends, Mt. Shasta itself, its cool water, its quiet nights … Hanuman, Krishna, Ram, Ganesha … Fergus, Tequila, Biscut, Buster, Oscar (yes, that’s five) … Byron, Wilde, Blake, Sterne … Burroughs, Pynchon, Hass, Kenney …

Interesting work, being done with old jobs, the promise of what lies ahead, what is to come on Monday … KCRW, the iPod, unexpected music, old and loved songs … Harmonicas, harmoniums, flutes, drums … A safe house, a warm bed, our Vita-Mix, organic veggies … Beaches, surf, surfboards, sand …

The past, the present, the future, all three … Night, day, sunrise, sunset … Birthdays, Christmases, anniversaries, every day celebrations … Martinis, wine, champagne, absinthe … Inventions, inventors, crusaders, revolutionaries …

Guruji, his students who are teaching us, the Confluence teachers, all who are coming to it …

Posted by Steve