Tag Archives: life

The Amazon.com Model

Brazil-Amazon-Rainforest

You are welcome to disagree with me, but you will not sway my opinion. Amazon.com is my favorite place to shop.

Don’t get me wrong. I love bookstores. I love to browse. And I can get lost in libraries.

But I’ve also been in an on and off romance with Kindle technology as well. I love having several books right at my fingertips on my phone at all times. So, any down-time can be productive and stimulating. But sometimes, I need a real-life paper book. If there are pictures or illustrations, I love a book. And in general, I like to have books especially if they are something I’ll reference and go back to. But then again, there is that having it at your fingertips (and searchable) any time.

You could teach an entire college course on Amazon. You could study marketing, demographics, gender & race studies, automation, and a whole host of other categories. Sometimes, the efficiency scares me. Its almost like Amazon knows what I want before I buy it and, the next thing you know, I get a text that it was delivered at my doorstep. I compare prices. Sometimes I look at a price and then go locally to see if they can beat it somewhere. I can get a used item. And the best of all: Reviews!! I know these can be falsified, but that’s another study unto itself. I write a lot of reviews myself and I am very honest about my feelings. So I assume at least a few good reviews will help me guide my purchase.

I use wish lists. I buy people stuff from their wedding & birthday lists. I prioritize what I want. And then I let it sit and may change it to a lesser priority. It makes me thrifty.

Now, to the politics of economics. I’m a firm believer in capitalism. The poor sellers, poor products, poor reviews, end up being the places and products we don’t buy. But the Best Sellers and best reviews are what wins. And in turn, volume sells and you get a better price. It is the ultimate economic model for capitalism. The market tells you what to get. Competition wins out. Often, if you find something with only one seller and the price is too high, it usually won’t sell. And I won’t buy it. Monopolies don’t work on Amazon.

The fortunate and unfortunate aspect of efficiency is in product sourcing. I’ll admit that I buy a lot of things that take 1-2 months to arrive on a slow boat from China. But when someone sells something for 99 cents or $4.99, I can’t lose. Most of the time, I don’t know its origin. I just know its probably a long way from home if it takes a long time to ship. But if it is a good product, I’ll quickly buy it again. This is the rule of global competition.

Lastly, I’ll tell you a short story. The big hardware stores near me are all the way across town. I had a hardware store closer that I would go to when I needed something fast. But my experience was always terrible. An old guy with an apron would be wandering the aisles. He was supposed to be helpful, but it seemed more like he was assuming you’d steal something. When he asked if he could help you, you would tell him. Then, he would belittle you and make you feel stupid for not knowing what he knew. A bolt that would cost 49 cents at Lowes ended up being $3.99 at the Mom & Pop. And don’t get me started with the camping store. I haven’t set foot in there for years. They would assume you were a thief before considering you as a patron. And the prices were marked up like 400%. I was at a bike shop once and had a nice conversation with the clerk. I browsed and walked out having not bought anything. The next thing you know, the clerk is knocking on the window of my truck asking me to open my jacket so she could see what I stole!! OMG! I didn’t steal anything. She didn’t even apologize. Yep, haven’t been back, and its closed anyway.

So for me, Amazon is a judgement-free zone. I get to shop on my terms. I shop in my short-shorts with a cup of coffee by my side. And with 2-day free shipping for Amazon Prime, I’m always the happiest camper around.

3 WOD morning!!!

prasarita

I’ve started a new work and yoga teaching schedule this week. I think I’m going to love it. I’m so excited to share:

  • Mon – rest day, yoga prep – Teach Rocket Yoga in evening
  • Tue – rest day, yoga prep – Teach Candlelight Yoga in eve
  • Wed – a.m. CrossFit, p.m. Olympic weightlifting complexes
  • Thu – a.m. Bodybuilding, p.m. Olympic weightlifting
  • Fri (week 1) – a.m. MAX lift Friday – p.m. Hot Yoga class
  • Fri (week 2) – a.m. Sunrise Yoga class – trail run, kayak, fish, camp
  • Sat – teach noon Rocket Yoga – p.m. hero, chipper, EMOM*
  • Sun – a.m. short WOD*, Olympic complexes, Tabata – p.m. Restorative Yoga class

*WOD = workout of the day. EMOM = every minute on the minute.

On Monday & Tuesday, I work 10 hour days and 8 hour days the rest. Then I take every other Friday off. Its a “ME” day!!!

After two rest days, I was chomping at the bit to workout. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do today, so I set up a short WOD. Then I did another…then another. Yay for 3 WODs. Here is what I did:

WOD 1: 3 rounds for time (warmup)

  • 10 ring dips
  • 10 wall ball shots 20#

WOD 2: 7 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible)

  • 7 deep parallette pushups
  • 4 pullups
  • 11 back extensions on machine

WOD 3: 4 rounds for time

  • 3 strict toes to bar
  • 6 kettlebell swings 1.5 pood
  • 9 double unders

These were fairly easy wods, so I focused on keeping going without much rest and strict form. I felt totally refreshed afterward. The goal wasn’t to get sore, but to get a good heart pump. It was a completely athletic workout. Tomorrow will be for getting sore when I do bodybuilding. It will be all about eccentric contractions and the pump.

Don’t you love a new workout plan? It is so invigorating!!!

 

Baby Steps to the WOD

baby steps

Mental barriers to working out are huge for most people. We are full of excuses.

  • I don’t have my clothes with me to workout
  • I’m sore. Maybe I’ll just rest today
  • I don’t have time
  • I’ll be too sore to function if I workout hard
  • I’ll just do this tomorrow instead

And these are only a few that I use myself. As a yoga teacher, I need to be able to demonstrate poses in classes I teach. If I wipe out my chest and can’t do a single chaturanga, that’s not good. So I structure workouts around that. Many of us have something that holds us back. Time seems to be the biggest hurdle.

These excuses are largely invalid. Instead of simply walking down the hall, lunge or hop down the hall. That is, if your colleagues don’t mind. Maybe do 50 squats or 30 pushups in your office or cubicle. That takes all of 1 or 2 minutes. Sit forward on your chair and lift your legs for a 1 minute hold. There really are no excuses.

I’m lucky that I have a very well-equipped CrossFit gym in my basement. I have everything from competition Olympic KG bumper plates, to Concept 2 rower and ski erg, to wall balls. There really aren’t many excuses for me NOT to workout. I could easily stroll down in my jammies or my work clothes and bust out a WOD. But why don’t I do that? Because my mind won’t let me.

So, this morning, I almost called off my workout. I teach Rocket Yoga tomorrow and thought, I really don’t want to be sore tomorrow. But you know what? I can make a WOD (workout of the day) that doesn’t affect my yoga teaching muscles too much. I was short on time, so this is what I did.

WOD 1: 5 rounds for time

  • 5 kettlebell swings 1.5 pood
  • 5 burpees

This was short and sweet and took under 5 minutes – and my heart jumped out of my skin. I rested less than 2 minutes and went to the next WOD.

WOD 2: 5 rounds for time

  • 5 pullups
  • 10 push press with 30 pound dumbbells

Again, this was nothing really. But I worked opposing muscle groups and got my heart pumping. Both of these WODs hurt. If something seems easier, then you go faster and it hurts just as much.

All together this took under 15 minutes. And I was sweating hard and was totally exhausted. But now I feel wonderful. It doesn’t take much at all. You just have to do it. Don’t even think about it. Don’t even pre-plan. Just get it into your mind that you’ll do something. And do it!!

A Model Yoga Teacher

PAT2_062207_CFW

Actually, there isn’t a model for any teacher.

When I went to Army Drill Sergeant’s Academy at Fort Knox, Kentucky, we studied leadership styles extensively. This was among hundreds of topics that we studied from psychology, to personal development, to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There is a template for teaching that contains the core elements. Leading by example by having the best appearance possible; having the physical ability to do above and beyond what most soldiers are capable of; and having the utmost discipline from what we do with our own litter to always being punctual. We never ask of a soldier something we wouldn’t do ourselves.

Over time, Drill Sergeant’s, elementary school teachers, yoga teachers, adopt characteristics from many mentors to create an amalgamation of style that is all their own. As we go along, we continually refine and find new inspiration. I think of numerous teachers in my path who helped make me who I am today. I never mimic a single person or one particular template.

That being said, there is one yoga teacher who stands out as a model for me. I took his classes religiously and admired his style. This was when I first started into my dedicated yoga journey. At the beginning of class, I could see he was studying his notes and working through postures on his own. Yet, he was still approachable and would talk with us as we entered the studio. He would often mention the peak pose for the day, so we always knew the goal. He challenged us to do our best. He praised us saying “you all did great. That was a hard pose!” He would pat us on the back and encourage us. But he was also stern. He would say “don’t you dare look down in chaturanga!” All his cues still stand out in my mind. You could tell he brought his own practice to the class to share with us. And he always gave assists in savasana that were amazing!

I not only admired his teaching style, but also his commitment to practice. Much of his practice was taking classes from other teachers. Yes, I would see him in the Ashtanga Primary series. But I would also see him in Fundamentals, Restorative, and Hot Yoga classes. Even though he was capable of harder variations of poses, he often took an easier variation. You could tell he was aware of his body and, possibly, the mood he was feeling. Sometimes the Raja isn’t there. Sometimes a more Tamasic practice is what is needed. I learned all of this from him. And I enjoyed practicing along side him. I have a few teachers who still mentor me in this way and I aspire to do the same for others.

Unfortunately, I see many teachers who never take classes from others. I don’t know if it is that they  don’t enjoy styles outside of their own. Maybe they only do their own personal practice and choose not to take from others. I’d hate to think that they felt they are above other teachers or have nothing left to learn. That would be a shame. We should all remain students. And I feel everyone has something to offer us. It may be a smile or a word. Or it could be a creative sequence or cue that we’ve never heard before. Just like our yoga practice, we never arrive as teachers.

Keep your minds open. Keep your hearts soft. Always be a student of life.

 

The Great Rebellion

james dean

In my teenage years, I started to question what my parents knew. I was learning new things that I didn’t think they knew. I saw them as old and out of touch. We all do it at some point in our lives. We seek our independence and are tired of being told what to do. Even further, we try to take a different path away from our parents. We play “opposite day” with them to the nth degree.

If you look at society, this happens on a broader scale. Its the pendulum effect. During the Vietnam War in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, a counter-culture arose due to young men being drafted into a battle many didn’t want to fight. And then we saw men come home in flag draped caskets and fought against what was going on. Rock & Roll was taking off and that culture gobbed onto anti-war rhetoric. Eventually, these young rebels became professors and professionals in society. They began to teach our children, and those children teach our children today.

The days of Leave It To Beaver and Father Knows Best are long gone. Instead of embracing what is good and wholesome, we seek to deviate. Instead of embracing the beliefs of our parents, we seek unbelief or even other traditions that are not our own. Some decry our military and go even as far as to fight against our own country. We completely lose perspective. We see our police as the enemy, when they are the first people you want to see in a crisis of your own. It is so hypocritical. We become a lost society when we lose our values and core beliefs. Instead, we grasp helplessly at mysticism or superstition.

The rebel child in me eventually grew up. I went straight into the Army out of high school. I paid my own way through college and eventually graduate school. Me, a minority of minorities, and not exceptionally bright. But I worked hard to make my own way. I stood on my own two feet. I am proud of that. Eventually, I saw my parents as the wisest people I know. I still think that way. Their eyes have seen so much in life. I have been a leader in society and in my church. I have a mortgage to pay for and family to care for. I am concerned for the safety of my home and country. If someone came to my door, I would give them food. But I wouldn’t want them to live with me. I’m not going to let them camp in my front yard. I would rather they find gainful employment and become self-sufficient. We can’t have a society of people who are dependent. We can’t be a society looking for freebies, handouts, and the easiest way out. We should have a lot more pride in ourselves to allow that. We should stand our ground and not play the rebel. That is for the young and weak-minded.

All paths lead back to core beliefs and values. Rebels can’t win.

 

What’s with all this Sanskrit jibberish?

vandegurunam

Prior to taking yoga teacher training, one of my favorite teachers would start to quiz me on Sanskrit names of poses. I would laugh and say, there will be time to learn that later. In my own mind, I was saying “why does all that matter anyway?” How can an ancient language be important in Modern Yoga?

In fact, some try to get rid of it completely. There are yoga teachings that try to make yoga available to the masses without all the history, philosophy, and Sanskrit nonsense. Who needs it anyway?

Today, we have mixed martial arts (MMA). In the old days, they pitted a karate master against a Sumo wrestler. Or a boxer against an Aikido practitioner. Today, students begin learning all aspects from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to kick boxing to wrestling. It can be done without any of the history of those original fighting arts being made know.

But I feel we lose so much when we lose our roots. It becomes superficial. When I began with Hawaiian Kenpo Karate as a kid, to Aikido in grad school, we learned the history of what the founding fathers brought to us. We learned about the meanings and the history behind why they studied these arts. We learned reverence and respect. It is a part that is missing from everything in life today. When we live without philosophy, without religion, without a strong parental upbringing, we lose our sense of who we are.

That is what Sanskrit does for yoga. Paschimottanasana is called intense forward stretch. Paschima means West. Traditional yoga is practiced at sunrise. The sun rises in the East and we face that direction when we salute the sun. So what we are stretching is our Western side, our back, glutes, and hamstrings.  Uttana means intense. Earliest yoga was about sitting in meditation. So asana means “seat”. We do yoga to prepare for meditation and find a more comfortable seat. Warming and opening our bodies does this for us. Knowing Sanskrit is the essence of yoga practice. It is the link we have to our roots. Its like your name is “Bill”, but we decide to call you “horse” instead. Our names are important to us. We can’t just disregard them.

Any teenage gym rat can teach you how to do a pushup. Doing knees to elbow in plank has no meaning other than to work toward what you see in the mirror. But to know deeper meanings through understanding Sanskrit and the history of yoga makes for a deeper practice. It also tells you that a teacher has studied and understands these deeper meanings.

Patthabi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga yoga, would say:

99% practice, 1% theory

But the practice is what opens the door to all those other wonders. If you read of students who studied with Jois “Guruji”, they rarely talk about the practice. They talk about what the practice does for you. Their self-study goes way beyond the practice. And that is where we find true yoga.

Mental Plasticity

frog brain

The primary emphasis of my yoga teaching is in Rocket Yoga, which is a free-flowing variation of Ashtanga Yoga. It requires me to stay on my toes a lot because variation is the key for this practice to grow. However, there are still core sequences involved with the practice making the variation not as great. Also, it is always intense and has the same basic tempo.

Where I really find myself being challenged is when I substitute teach for other classes. If I teach Fundamentals/Beginners yoga, I am first making sure I meet needs where they are. I don’t want a student to take their first class with me and have them turned off of yoga for life. I trim back heavily on using Sanskrit, deeper alliterations to describe poses, and a lot less of the spiritual/mental aspects.

Yesterday, I taught Gentle Yoga at a health facility that caters mostly to senior adults. Again, I need to meet people where they are and for their current needs. It is actually my favorite class to teach. I end up talking with students long after class and they ask for specific ways to help them through life. It is so fulfilling as a teacher to actually help people who need it most.

The most difficult class I’ve ever taught is Restorative Yoga. The teacher who I substituted for is full of wisdom in her teaching. It wasn’t until after I became a teacher that I realized the nuances and timing of her teaching. I told myself to slow down and be patient with my timing. And yet, I still ran out of poses with 15 minutes still left in class. I need to add this to at least a weekly practice on my own to make my teaching more effective.

Sometimes, we teach a class that is somewhat unknown. It is open to interpretation. Classes like “hot yoga” or “vinyasa flow” usually means an all-levels class of moderate intensity. Then you go completely by feel and intuition. Even by breath and the look in yogis’ eyes. You want them to be engaged and breathing. Maybe even laughing when appropriate. These are fun classes to teach, but you never know where its going to go.

Overall, with anything we do in life, its best to not always be comfortable. Its nice to be challenged with different circumstances. I enjoy experimenting and trying something that just feels good. I did this yesterday in class. I had them do something that I have never done myself, yet it felt really good. Be creative and enjoy what you do. Whether it is at work, taking a different path while running, or taking time to sit in the park and soak up all the goodness that’s around you.

Be aware, be present, and live life to the full.

Type that Body!

body shape

We are all genetically prone to inherit traits from our parents. Our body shape is one of these characteristics. What type of shape are you?

  • Pear, hourglass, bowling pin, triangle, …
  • Endomorph, ectomorph, mesomorph
  • Tall, short, thin, round

And can we break from these shapes? Its not easy to do. In sports, work, and life, I always say “rely on your strengths.” If we focus only on what we perceive or people tell us are our weaknesses, we’ll only live a bleak life of inadequacy.

As a Native American, I was born to have a big barrel chest. Unfortunately, this goes along with visceral belly fat and thin limbs (aka skinny legs). If I were a bodybuilder, this means  I don’t have to do a lot to stimulate my pecs and upper back. But the core of my work should focus on heavy squats, lots of abdominal work, and I can’t neglect things like biceps curls & triceps extensions.

In my 20’s, I always had six-pack abs. But its a battle of the bulge now. All I can do is stay persistent. I can’t get disheartened by lack of progress. Embrace who you are. If you have something special that your parents gave you, then why not flaunt it. But don’t worry about things that you can’t easily change.

Burn the Boats

burn the boats

Several years ago, I was the pacer for a runner in the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run in California. This started as an equestrian event many years ago. When Gordy Ansleigh’s horse went lame at the start, he decided to run it on foot. And so the tradition began for what is known as the Grand-Daddy of all ultramarathons.

A pacer’s job is to keep a runner on track, especially in dangerous terrain where they can get lost or suffer collapse. In some races, a pacer can mule for a runner, which means they can carry water, food, or other needs. But not in this race. I was there for safety, guidance, and motivation. At one point, likely midnight at around mile 70, my runner succumbed to the chair. They always say “beware the chair”.  I had put a mylar blanket on her and she ate some food and proceeded to pass out. She said, “I’m done.” I prodded her to keep going. I wasn’t about to let her quit. And I said, we are deep in a canyon. The only way to get out is to start climbing cross-country. And even if we get to a road, we may wait a long time for someone to pick us up. It was unsafe and unwise. There was no going back. And she continued on.

When you set your mind on a goal, you should stay the course. Cortes and a small group of Spaniards landed on the Yucatan Peninsula in 1519 A.D. and set out to conquer Mexico. He ordered the troops to “Burn the Boats”. That way, they would either collapse in defeat or fight to victory. And fight they did. I won’t say whether this idea or the historical act of colonialism was the correct course of action, but you have to admire the will to succeed by not allowing for an exit strategy.

Sometimes life throws things your way and often we don’t have an option. We are the soldier placed in a situation where we have no other way but to move forward. Sometimes, the boat is burned for us whether we like it or not. Sometimes people will say things in such a brash and unforgiving way that they burn the boat. There is no going back. Salvaging a plank of wood and wading into the ocean is not an option. You can forgive their anger and honest emotions, but you can’t forgive the substance of the message.

Move forward all you soldiers. Don’t even think of escape. There is only up. Gird your loins and find your reward. The horizon is yours for the taking.

Of Rice and Ramen

sun rays

Have you ever met a person who was beyond humble? Someone who has fought battles, has a resume that stretches the length of an arm, or saves lives for a living? Yet, these facts are never brought to light. They sit in a wheelchair looking out the picture window. They pick up a piece of litter as geese fly overhead. They walk along the lighthouse path with only their muffled steps and chirps of a distant sandpiper to flutter their eardrums.

Yet, some have nothing. No life experiences. No credentials. Though they find fame in the most glorious ways. The strings of the puppet are but threads of yarn.

Blessed are the humble in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven