Inner Space: The Final Frontier (CalPoly051315)

Note: This is the first in an ongoing series of articles documenting the extraordinary evolution of my now two-year-old, weekly Human Being Training program at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. I'm deeply grateful for the 35+ humans who participate in these yoga-based, music-driven adventures, since although I'm the titular instructor, the synergy we create together is what makes possible some truly jaw-dropping alchemy.


The energy of the community this week was crackling, edgy. It reminded me of the feeling I had recently during an autocross race when the back end of my car broke loose on a diabolically uneven, extra-long sweeping turn. The 360 that followed was epic, but disorienting. I was borrowing a magnificent, AWD turbo and forgot that the one thing to do with an all-wheel-drive car when its back end slips is to Floor It. And so we did in class what I failed to do on the race course. It was a sweaty, glorious mess.

Not my EVO, but you get the idea.

Not my EVO, but you get the idea.

I often have a theme of the week for Human Being Training (although I let the details fill themselves in as the class unfolds) and give a short talk on it before we get moving. This week, fueled by this life-altering Eckart Tolle video I've been studying, we explored the metaphorical concept of Inner Space: The Final Frontier. (I'm a total Star Trek dork, so this is how the Info presented itself to me.)

As always (OK, as often as I remember), I was practicing relaxing, setting down my ego, and letting the Information come through me as accurately as possible.

I try to listen to what my mouth says during Human Being Training, because when I let the Energy speak through me, it's generally pretty useful in the sense of providing instruction on how to become a Real Human Being. (This is how I think of folks like Jesus, Buddha, The Dalai Lama, Allah, Krishna, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Yoda, Your Favorite Avatar Here, etc.) And above all else, I'm passionately keyed in to removing as many layers of my Not-Self as I can in this particular lifetime. (Side note: I just saw the new Mad Max: Fury Road movie today--they call Real Human Beings "shiny" or "chrome." Cool.)

The excellent thing is that each of us is already Shiny. And most of us forget this surprising fact as we tool around in our little daily worlds, lost in a wilderness of jibber-jabbering, meaningless, constricting thoughts fueled by our raging egos and untrained but powerful five senses.

Most of us have forgotten that the Brain Mind is the servant of the Heart Mind and the Gut Mind, not the fucking boss of us. (Guess where your terrified, tyrannical, torturing ego lives? Mmm-hmm.) And most of us have also forgotten that each of our senses is a big red button in our spacesuit bodies, which are tools for exploring Time/Space. When you use them correctly, you can play the Game. When you don't know how your spacesuit works, you don't know there is a Game, and how much crazy-ass fun it is.

So here's the crux of what we learned this week: To create some space inside you, some deep peace and relief from the incessant, maddening barrage of the Monkey Mind (have you noticed all that internal noise?), to train your Brain Mind to do the will of the more intelligent Heart and Gut, you only need to watch your body breathe. Or feel the inside of your left foot or hand. In other words, feel the Life that you are. Observe that you are not the nerve impulses that create thoughts. You are what watches the thoughts arise.

Until next week, Human Beings, have fun and for God's sake don't take my word for any of this! I'm continually flabbergasted by the amount of stuff I don't know. Maybe, if you want, try some of these ideas for yourself and see what happens.

All my heart,

Amanda


Things to Practice with Your Spacesuit This Week

1. V-e-r-y....s-l-o-w yoga pushups, with elbows in and a good plank going on (aka chaturanga). 10 seconds down, 10 seconds up. I can do 2 so far. Remember, slowness is a path to mastery and tremendous strength.

2. The hip mobility work we did. I found the exercises here. Love these guys.

3. As many frog leaps as you can do in 30 seconds. Do them like this!

4. Party trick o' the week: sit-throughs.

PLAYLIST

The Plank of Doom

I guess my definition of "fun" is a little unusual.

My students have learned that when I say, "OK, so let's try something fun!" some serious shit is about to come down on them. There are usually moans and groans, and sometimes there are flops onto the floor as dread overwhelms.

Most of them, though, surprise themselves by rising to the occasion and finding that a good old-fashioned challenge is, yeah....fun. I love seeing the furrowed brows transform into smiles of discovery as they take on the challenge and win.

In this coddled, automated society, we've forgotten how glorious and gratifying it is to test ourselves, mentally and physically, against an opposing force—even if it's "just" our own bodyweight. And then how fabulous is it to watch ourselves quickly adapt, get stronger, and want to have even more fun?

So, here's Cisco's and my latest quick-workout video for you, which I call the Plank of Doom. Make sure not to commit the rookie errors of sticking your butt up or letting the hips sag. If that happens and you can't help it, just try to hold a good plank for 30-60 seconds until you get stronger.

You're awesome. Mwa!

How to Do Yoga Sun Salutes for Health, Happiness, and Stress Relief

Ever despair that because of time and money concerns you'll never manage to work yoga into your life, despite knowing how good it is for your mind, body, and spirit? Well, despair no more!

In this video, I show you how to do Sun Salutations, one of the most effective strengthening, stretching, and stress-relieving yoga sequences, in the privacy of your home (or at the park or in your garage, etc.). It's wonderful and very helpful to go to a lovely yoga studio (like mBody, my home studio in San Luis Obispo, CA), but when you only have a few minutes or are short on dough, don't let that stop you from getting healthy and happy on your own!

One of my main reasons for getting up every day is because I LOVE empowering people (including myself) to do things that they believe they can't do. Now, in your case, that belief may be:

a) "I can't do yoga because I'm too old, stiff, klutzy, injured, overweight," etc.

b) "I can't do yoga because I have to spend many hours and dollars every week to learn how. And I ain't got either of those things."

c) All of the above.

Sometimes, all that's required to break down that "I can't" barrier is for someone to tell you, "Yes, you can," and then show you how. Others really like to argue for their limitations. If you're the first kind of person, I can help you. If you're the second kind, I wish you peace and release you!

So, Type Ones, here's what you do. Shift your focus from A and/or B above to this new belief: "I have 5-10 minutes to practice Sun Salutes on most days because I want to be strong, flexible, and relaxed. I'll enjoy a full-length yoga class with an experienced teacher when I can, and in the meantime, I practice on my own or with friends/family at home.

See? Easy breezy. Next, watch Cisco's and my video this week and give it a try! I'll show you two versions of the Sun Salute: one for regular folks and one for people with twingy backs or who are working on building strength. Have fun and send any questions that come up. Namaste!