Category Archives: life

We are real

hannabah_blue_real_life_indian

Its so funny that its not funny.

A colleague at work was raised in Texas and claims to have a small percentage of Native American roots. He worked with Tribes in the Northwest U.S. so he thinks of himself as an expert on Native America. We were talking one day and he said “You don’t look like any Indian I’ve ever seen.” Ha!!! How am I supposed to take that? So what does an Indian look like?

When I was in grad school traveling with lab mates to work on our research plots in the corn fields, one lady said something intriguing. She knew I was Native American. And because she spent some time in New Mexico, she thought she was the world’s leading authority on Native American beliefs. When I would say something that she thought went against what real Indians think, she would say “but doesn’t that go against your beliefs?” It is almost like those who’ve interacted with us can say whatever they want. You don’t know me like you think you do.

Its one thing for a little kid who has only seen Indians on TV or in story books. It is a whole other thing to have an educated adult question your ethnicity.

I appreciate that people appreciate my culture. But have you ever heard of cultural appropriation? It is a form of racism usually based on some level of cultural ignorance. Dream catchers, feather headresses, war paint,…all these things have significance, often sacred and revered to Native American Tribes. Yet someone thinks it looks cool or they want to appear trendy, so they wear something or do something they think honors Indians. Believe me, it doesn’t. It is likely to offend instead.

We are real!

First of all, we ARE real. We have professions just like you do. We drive cars and live in houses. We see the things you promote as being US. We read and write and walk on our own two feet (if we have feet). Do we have problems? Yes! We have diabetes. Many of my relatives have gone blind or have limbs amputated because of it. We have depression and substance abuse. But I wouldn’t say it is different from what you see in the projects, the barrios, the ghettos, the hills, or wherever else you’d call the other side of the tracks. Regardless, we are real.

The biggest shock to you is that Indians aren’t monolithic in thought or culture. There are 535 Federally-recognized Tribes in the United States and many more not recognized. We all have different histories and different stories of our Creation. Our ancestors lived in different houses, had specific beliefs, wore different clothes, and had unique languages. We weren’t all warriors always looking for a fight. Many were and are farmers and fishers. And, yes, we look differently.

Many people say what they do is meant to honor us. They wear a t-shirt or feathers or something else that says “I love Indians”. But instead, they do dishonor. If they thought to pick up a book and read about our history and culture, maybe they’d have a clue. Much more could be done to support us by donating to Diabetes research or Native American Student Scholarships. It would mean SO much more than promoting false stereotypes.

We are real!

You don’t get to decide who we are or how we feel.

Represent

david

I used to take a yoga class now and then from a teacher who was “real”. I mean, she wasn’t the type of yogi you see on magazine covers. In fact, maybe she didn’t look like what a yoga teacher looks like in your mind’s eye. And she is a great yogi.

It is unfortunate that we have these stereotypes in our minds of how people should be. We should accept people as they are. If they can perform and do their jobs, then that should be enough.

Or is it enough?

I was an Army Infantry Drill Instructor in a previous life. Our duty was to “Lead by Example”. So we put up an image that went far and above what is required of a normal soldier. No wonder the divorce rate is so high among the Drill Sergeant ranks. We spent half of our time grooming, exercising, asking for extra starch on our uniforms at the cleaners, and shining boots to look like mirrors every night. Actually, most of us used two uniforms a day and at least two sets of boots. If we got scuffed or dirty or sweaty, we’d change into a new uniform so we always looked “perfect”. We were toy soldiers who taught people to be like us. And it was impossible for them to keep up. But soldiers looked at us like infallible gods. We were what they were to strive to become. It can’t work any other way.

As a yoga teacher, I represent “yoga”. I represent my studio or gym where I teach. I hope that when people look at me, they’ll think “that’s what yoga can do for me”. They say “Practice what you teach, and teach what you Practice”. I have to live by example. I can’t preach about Ahimsa and then go off honking my horn and yelling at people who drive too slowly. Everything I do hopes to meet that standard. At least that’s what my Inner Drill Sergeant tells me.

I know we need to give ourselves grace. Humility has its merits too. I often share if I’m tired or tweaked a knee or something. When I am a student in a class among my peers, sometimes I’ll take child’s pose or the easier variation of a pose. I am human…maybe more than people know.

But I still strive to be the best yogi I can be. I want to be a shining example of what yoga can do. When people say its just for the stereotypical cover girl, I like to show it can be for beefy, older guys and real people like me. Though it is still important for me to project my brand. In many ways, I’m selling a product. I’m promoting a lifestyle. I feel responsible to my diet, to my svadhyaya (self-study), to my cross-training, and to my yoga practice. Maybe it will inspire others to commit to something special themselves.

Be the best YOU that you can be. It’s always good enough!

Take a Rest Day

bubble-bath

To be honest, I am the worst offender ever. I pack every day with some-thing and if I have a few minutes free, I pack some more. I assume most of us are this way. The most obvious indicator is with my home life. If my girls aren’t happy, then I can’t possibly be happy (wife & two dogs). Even friends complain that I don’t have time for them. So over the past month, I’ve resolved to make changes, even if slowly.

My first step is to take a dedicated rest day. Frankly, its not easy to choose which day that will be. My spiritual side says it is on Sunday; an official Sabbath!! My schedule determines a lot from yoga teaching, training for a CrossFit competition, and getting ready for trail running races. So for now…Sunday it is!

It was AMAZING!!

I really needed a day like that. I’ve been going at it for so long. I didn’t plan anything for the day. Not only was it a physical relief, but it was huge mentally and spiritually. You know what, next Sunday I will have a few more options for myself as well, though I’m not “planning”. Just options. It will be a spa day. I’ll take a hot bubble bath, maybe two! Maybe I’ll go get a tan. Take a walk with my dogs. Perhaps I’ll go fishing. Maybe I’ll get a mani-pedi, since I’ve never done that. It will be a ME day!

Take time for yourself. Everyone will love you for it! Especially YOU!

A Daily Yoga Practice

rocket man

Can I admit something?

I don’t have a daily yoga practice. I lift weights, run, and do CrossFit on my own, which is what I’ve always done. But I’ve had the toughest time trying to do yoga on my own. Before becoming a yoga teacher, I would attend a lot of classes. And then I began to design my own classes for teaching while still attending a few classes. Then I got tired!! Really tired. I ended up only teaching classes. Every now and then I’d attend an Ashtanga or hot yoga class. But still no personal practice (other than taking Instagram selfies 🙂 ).

I just finished a 50 hour Rocket Yoga training. While I have skills to do deeper poses, I realize my lack of a personal practice made me suffer…a lot! Sure, I do tons of squats, burpees, pull-ups and such. That is what kept me in the game. But I need to practice yoga too.

Practice what you Teach. Teach what you Practice!

So as a measure of accountability, I’m telling my peeps here and now that I will have a daily practice. Rocket Yoga advocates a 6-day program beginning Sunday. My Sabbath will be Sunday, so I am shifting forward a day. Here it is:

Monday – Ashtanga Primary series (or Modified Primary Series, rocket-style)
Tuesday – Rocket 1 with focus on building strong legs
Wednesday – Rocket 2 focusing on backbends, upper body, and core
Thursday – Rocket 2 but with deeper backbend emphasis
Friday – Rocket 1 with a healing emphasis
Saturday – Rocket 3 “Happy Hour” which is a faster paced mix of 1 & 2
Sunday – day of rest and reflection

I plan to do this over my lunch hour. I hope to tell you of my progress soon! I’ll be a real Rocket Man before you know it. I’m changing things up to grow.

If you Always do the Same Things, you will Always get the Same Effect!

Life is a Miracle

prehistory
Do you ever wonder how certain creatures are stuck and have not appeared to evolve?

What about crocodiles? If you look at pictures of what people claim are pre-historic, why do they show crocodiles?

How about pelicans? If you look at pictures of Pterodactyls, I would say they are pelicans.

What about ferns? Why no seeds? Where seeds? Why don’t they start producing seeds? What’s wrong with them?

We see pictures of changes in life. We don’t see the changes happen.

Do you remember the adage, “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”? Much of it stems from human embryonic development. At some points in development in the womb, you can see a salamander with a tail, a fish with gills, maybe a bacterial blob. And just because you can picture each of these stages, the hypothesis was that each stage represents a different creature in its evolution. That theory has been wholly debunked.

But we still have these pictures and say that one creature came from the other. In the sciences I’ve studied, we depend on replication of experiments. Sample size, error rates, all the statistics that matter come into play. Yet how does scientific reasoning apply to these pictures? Somehow we get lost in comparison and contrast; cause and effect; correlation versus real relationships.

I would propose a few experiments. Let’s change a common squirrel into a chipmunk. Or let’s change a crocodile into an alligator. Is that too difficult? How about something simpler. Let’s change Escherichia coli into Salmonella typhimurium (bacteria if you didn’t know). Show me the study and evidence and then let someone else recreate your study in another independent lab. Do that, and I’ll give you a Nobel Prize.