Tag Archives: life

Happy Accidents

advanced yoga

True story: Several times in the past, as recent as this week, I’ve had yogis stumble into my Rocket Yoga class. Most people don’t know that Rocket really is a “thing”. My regular Rocketeers know that it is real and have embraced what it can do for you. But for someone who is new to yoga or new to Rocket, they think it’s simply another creative name for a flow yoga class.

Bob Ross, the late painter who hosted the TV series “Joy of Painting”, used to say–

We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents

I’m usually cognizant of who attends my classes and their ability levels. But since I had a small class the other day, I forgot to ask if anyone was new to Rocket. So I casually have my class start on their own with 5 Surya Namaskar A’s and 5 Sun B’s (sun salutations). No big deal, right? Well, someone started alright… then said “I think I’ve made a mistake.” I mean, we didn’t do anything hard yet. So I encouraged her to stay.

Larry Schultz’s favorite asana was child’s pose. While he founded a challenging variation on Ashtanga Yoga, he was also compassionate. He was SO encouraging of his students; just like my Rocket teacher, Amber Gean. He would always say–

You are Stronger than you think

I asked this yogi to just try. To do what she could. And if it ever got to be too much, just take child’s pose. Its your practice. I’m just here to help your Rocket take off.

Guess what? She stayed. And other yogis who’ve stumbled into this yoga party stayed as well. Some even came back! And some may wait a while before they try again. But at least they know what is possible. They see yogis who are further in their journey doing amazing things. We may all get there some day if we just try.

Happy Accidents? For sure..if you open the door and try. Rocket is so fast that you don’t have time to commiserate over what you can or can’t do. You just do! You try. And if you fall, you get back up again. That’s how we live life.

Where will your Rocket take you?

Devolve into Chaos

cosmos

My Mom used to always say “close the door because you’ll let the cold in!” Then I took college physics and the professor said something profound. He said “there is no such thing as cold, there is only lack of heat.”

Diffusion – (my definition) movement of molecules from a state of high concentration to low concentration.

When you have people respiring oxygen and carbon dioxide, and numerous gases emanate from furniture, carpet, foods, whatever, you get a fairly high concentration of molecules. Then, add heat (aka energy) so these molecules are continually energized and bounce all around. What happens when you open the door to the less energized and colder outdoors? These bouncing molecules find release. They bounce until reaching their own stasis. If you leave the door open, equilibrium will no longer find a concentration gradient. They will be the same in concentration of molecules and thereby similar in temperature.

Second Law of Thermodynamics – Everything tends toward entropy or disorder.

If you have water in a basin and the vapor pressure is low, eventually those molecules will move from a liquid state to a gaseous state (i.e., they evaporate). If you look at the Grand Canyon, it will never be the same as it once was. You can’t put the sediment that has eroded away back on the steep cliffs. It would never stay. All those tiny grains are somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

Everything tends toward disorder. But does it?

Life is the oddity in this process. When I’ve debated these ideas with biochemists and physicists, they always confine the system to validate their reasoning. But when you explain life, how is life even possible? How is it possible to evolve into a higher creature when the 2nd Law says that we tend toward disorder? It seems like we should have devolved into microorganisms and not the other way around.

Neo-Darwinists began to realize that life is truly an oddity of nature. Did you know that science is never fully explained? There is always a Black Box somewhere in the process. Scientists would say that it is the Next Frontier, or some other grandiose statement. But its really something unknown that is yet to be known. Its a theory.

I would call it a Miracle.

The Neo-Darwinists acknowledge this Miracle as some kind of Life Force. Hmmm, a Life Force? That’s not very sciency!

Is the Life Force the Sun? Maybe a divine Universe? Maybe its Chi or some other meta-physical property. It makes me wonder. This is what wakes me in the middle of the night.

Swimming Upstream with Diets

bears fishing

Podcasts often make me go introspective to my daily habits. The topic du jour was diets. So here goes. (quick read? — scroll down for tips)

My body type is a mesomorph. Since I was young, I could eat whatever I wanted and still have a six-pack. I was super active and weight was never a problem. However, this also means I never learned how to eat. My grandpa lived to be 89 years old, yet he smoked, drank, and ate very poorly. When we had chili at his house, it came wrapped in butcher paper like a brick of fat. It melted in the pan as you cooked it. A slab of Colby cheese and a sleeve of crackers often accompanied it. And I loved it. I thought I had genes like his, so I could get away with eating poorly.

I think for most of us, our 30’s is when your metabolism starts to go into conservation mode. I was a Senior Army Drill Sergeant at 32 years old when I started to fall back in a run. What the heck? I was a runner and a pretty good one at that. I gained 10 pounds and it wasn’t coming off. Even when I became an ultramarathoner in my 40’s, I pretty much maintained weight and didn’t lose much. But the key that was missing was diet. I still ate like a horse.

Fast forward to years later. My ultramarathon days were starting to come to an end. I began doing CrossFit and made lots of changes in my life. But I didn’t change my diet. Not long before, my wife had her gall bladder removed. So I suppose I was next. After my diagnosis, the doctors were ready to schedule an appointment with the surgeon. I’m like “wait a minute, let’s think about this first”. I mean, I’m a scientist myself. There has to be a better way. I started doing some research and found that gall bladder disease is mostly a side effect of gluttony. It can be connected with a host of other issues from diabetes to gout to liver disease. My research led to a gastroenterologist back in the 1950’s who put together a diet with many names. It was the Diabetes Diet, Alzheimer’s Diet, Parkinson’s Diet, … In effect, they were all autoimmune diseases where autoregulation is halted. Come to find out, it is also the basis for the Paleo Diet.

So despite my mantra of “exercise all you can so you can eat what you want”, I needed to change. I went cold turkey and jumped on the Paleo bandwagon. We stripped the cupboards bare of all processed food, especially flour, pasta, and other starches. The same with sugars. Within two weeks, I was free of the painful heart-attack like symptoms that I suffered from my gall bladder. My blood lipids were completely back to normal and I was losing weight and bodyfat. It was amazing what it did for my life.

Since those days, I’ve moderated my views and overlapped other concepts into my life. I am still mostly Paleo since I pay for it when I go back to the Dark Side. I used to be the bonehead at the party who was vocal about what I “wasn’t” eating and would preach all the facts about the bad foods that were there. I’m more sociable now. I’ll graze on fun foods knowing that I’ll eat clean 98% of the time. During the work week, I’m essentially a Warrior Diet advocate. Here are some ideas that I abide by:

  • Breakfast consists of coffee with a half-teaspoon of creatine and a tablespoon of coconut oil which provides energy and muscle cell hypertrophy. I’m not very hungry anyway in the morning because of what I eat before bed.
  • I skip lunch but may snack on a protein bar, a spoonful of peanut butter, or maybe a protein shake to keep my energy, prevent muscle catabolism, and maintain low insulin levels for fat burning.
  • I usually do Olympic lifting in the morning, yoga over lunch, and a CrossFit WOD with bodybuilding after work. Then I eat dinner.
  • Dinner is the largest meal of the day. Caveman drag food home to cook and eat! I get my daily dose of calories at this time. Although, I’m usually not starving because I haven’t faced insulin spikes from what the FDA and others would recommend with small meals throughout the day. It is balanced with lots of protein, fat, and veggies.
  • Currently, my pre-bedtime ritual is to take Progenex Cocoon. It has amino acids like tryptophan to help you sleep. It also has other proteins that aids muscle building and recovery. I take creatine with this too. Your highest levels of testosterone and other growth hormones occur as you sleep. Your cortisol levels drop and serotonin increases. So you do some fat burning as well as opposed to fat storage. Your fat is being used to make new cells and aid in hormone building (which are made of fats).

So far so good. I still enjoy a few cheats along the way. I’m not perfect. If I get really hungry or if I know I am teaching an intense yoga class or hot yoga, I’ll eat lunch or a snack hours before. I still stick to a mostly Warrior/Paleo styled diet and it seems to work for me. The bonus of not planning breakfast or lunch is I never worry about what I’m going to eat. And I can really enjoy a savory dinner and a nice sleep at night. I also got to keep my gall bladder.

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!

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.

Stands With A Fist

stands with a fist
There is a character depicted in the movie “Dances With Wolves” with the name given to her “Stands With A Fist”. She was a Caucasian woman taken in by the Lakota Sioux for a reason I don’t remember. She had been with them for so long that she no longer spoke English. Apparently, she was given this name because she didn’t take any gruff from anyone. She wasn’t a weakling of a person who sought special privilege. She Stands with a Fist. You have to admire a person like that. Someone who isn’t looking for a handout. Someone who makes the most of every situation.
When you are proud, you try to do things yourself. You appreciate help, but you don’t seek it. It is about personal responsibility and value of self-worth. In that time, a Native woman would wander off to a lonely place in the woods to give birth. It was a completely different mindset. Don’t get me wrong. I like all the accouterments of modern life. But you have to admire the mind of someone who does something on their own. Its why I like to fix my own car. YouTube is good for that. There is nothing that we are incapable of doing these days if we have the courage to put our minds to it.
It doesn’t take the government, or some official, or a college degree to tell me if or what or when I can do something. I will do it. And always on my own if I have the tools to do it. We should all learn to Stand With A Fist!