Practicing Practice


Mel Brookes’ The Producers is what got me into a yoga studio for the first time. The story line really had nothing to do with the venture, but my friend Brandon’s casting as part of the ensemble did. He asked if I might join him on his adventure to professional “form” by purchasing a Groupon for 10 Yoga sessions. Thus began my journey to practicing a better me.

The decision was rather unexpected. It had been nearly 15 years since I worked out inside. Do not get me wrong, I love fitness. I had spent many weekends and probably too many weekdays riding through the woods of Patapsco State Park and navigating the roads of Baltimore County on two wheels. Why spend time inside suffering when you can do so while exploring majestic vistas?

Little did I know the new ground I discover on a stationary mat.

Yoga takes place in a studio. I always found this peculiar and my reservations were only exacerbated by the overly pleasant feeling of M power’s space in east Baltimore. The renovated building was thoughtfully appointed with muted tones, exposed brick, hardwood, and mild lighting. There was even a mural that exuded a sense of calm while reaching. The space was not one that I thought conducive to my understanding of physical growth.

Yoga has teachers. I knew the stereotypes of the smooth, soft and near tantric voice of a Yogi when I started my pursuit of wellness. Nearly all of my teachers have fit that vision with pleasant demeanor and kind spirits. Early on I did not appreciate the role. Developing endurance, muscle, and refining motion did not in my mind match calm, collective and gentle invitations. I thought my guide to strength would need to be the essence of brute and judgement.

Yoga relies on being still. I had knowledge of the poses prior to my engagement with Brandon. And I have now done many crow stands, lizards, cobra’s and a zoo worth of other positions in my training. How could the body benefit from stacis? And why would any athletic endeavour start by finding your breath and setting an intention? Did we need weights? Should we be running to get our heart rate up? I thought athleticism was defined by mobility, agility, and speed.

Yoga is a practice!

  • The space is called a studio because it is where you go to refine your craft. There is no audience, it is all about you and your work. As such that space needs to inspire and provide freedom of mind to explore what is possible.
  • It is lead by teachers. Learning is about enabling the student to try. We only try when we know we are safe and judgement does not impinge. A great yogi is one who reveals the guide that resides within the student.
  • There is great strength in stillness. No wisdom is required to build a system that can be toppled. It takes fortitude to create something that will endure. The static structures of the universe endure the test of time.
  • Our breath is a reminder of our humanity, our starting point. It is a fundamental principle that we can acknowledge and utilize as a compass. We must quiet our being to find the most important things in life.
  • A journey without a destination is a challenge. Setting a goal is the first small step towards prolific achievement.

My practice of yoga has been incredible for my whole being. I am more flexible. I am stronger. I am more open. Most importantly the spirit of the experience has allowed me to reach more. I try things personally and professional I would not have done so prior. I am practicing more and performing far better in all facets of my life. Practicing practice changes our life by changing our future selves.

Two Thoughts on Discipline: small choices, big outcomes


About three weeks ago I purchased an alarm clock. The reason for purchasing such a mundane everyday object was discipline. I prefer to wake up naturally and for the most part I do, but it is helpful to have something mildly surprising to elicit a push of chemicals through your body to get it started. Prior to purchasing the alarm I had been utilizing my phone for “waking up purposes”, thus my phone was by my bed at night. In reality this put most of my work in my bedroom as well. Several times in recent months I found myself looking at my phone right prior to signing off for the night. This is a mistake on several fronts. The blue screen of backlit gadgets stimulates the mind and does little to perpetuate a sleepy disposition. Those waves alone jolt the senses. The second reason it is a mistake has to do with content. The mind can not shut down for rest if it is processing information. This becomes doubly true when the information elicits an emotional response in tandem with the logical engagement. I bought an alarm clock not so I could wake up but so that I could sleep.

Another discipline that has been helpful for me lately is the lack of access to social media on my phone. About a year ago we were hosting a group of college gentlemen. It is hard to believe but that age group is now nearly an entire generation younger than I am. In the midst of their stay they noted the phone that I was using. They expressed a keen interest because it was a relic, and likely the first gadget they coveted in their youth. Anyway, all this to say my phone is old. As such, it has ailments and earlier this summer it did a hard reset. It was life changing, as in everything on the phone was lost. This was an interest space to be in. It was kind of like a forest fire cleaning out debris and making room for new life.

Yes I lost contact information but the contacts that matter have been easy to return into my phone. Interestingly enough losing the apps on the device has been a bigger deal, and frankly a more important change for me. After a brief period of mourning and coming to terms with the loss, I set about to make the phone useful. If I could recall an app I was using I put it back on the phone. That was easy, and a great first step for cleaning. It also became apparent which apps were there with my best interest in mind. Namely, if I could recall the password to get in to the app it meant one of two things: I used the app consistently enough to know my credentials for use AND the company that created the app wanted to make sure I was sentient and aware of my use of the app. Interestingly enough one of the apps I did not know the password to was Instagram.

At the point of the reset it was nearly without fail that my day started by flicking through the photo albums of other people’s lives and it ended with the same voyeuristic act. Instagram is ingenious. It’s easy and provides a strange system of ethereal rewards. The loss of the app on my phone gave me a moment to consider what it is and what I was doing with it. I could ask myself is it a tool or am I a tool. Was I really getting content that enriched my life? Was I using it to connect to people? Was it valuable for me?

It is strange to say but the loss of instagram helped me become more informed. I discovered time to dig into matters I really cared about instead of swiping up. I found emotional energy to invest in things that matter more to me instead of coveting what I did not have. The fire hurt, but once it was quenched I see new blossoms rising.