After practicing yoga for over thirty years down in the big smoke we felt called to move back into nature into an environment ideal to go deeper into the higher limbs of yoga practice. The Vedas suggest that when one comes to the middle of ones life (around 50) to change ones mode of life and spend more time on spiritual practice in nature. This mode of life is called vanaprashtha (forest dweller). This same mode of life is suggested in many yogic texts. We took that quite literally and live now on a mountaintop surrounded by ancient rainforest. Living in nature inspires our practice greatly, which we can then share when we come back into the cities to teach workshops or retreats.

This blog will give you updates of what we are currently working on and it will give us the opportunity to stay in contact with the many people and students we have worked with throughout the last few decades. Of course if you want to post any questions, your mountaintop yogis will do their best to answer them.

Is alone-ness the same as loneliness?

Is alone-ness the same as loneliness? What ate Janis Joplin? And what has it to do with finding in ones heart the heart of all beings? Why is the mystic the true friend and why being all-one enables you to commune with others out of freedom rather than out of need. And how does it relate to Yoga Sutra II.25?

You Were Born to Gaze at the Stars, Saving Your Neck – Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at some of the biomechanics of neck problems and especially how to eliminate unnecessary tension in our neck when weight-bearing on our hands. In yoga asanas we commonly take our head back, extending our head and neck. Students are often cautious and hold back with this movement, concerned that it may hurt their neck. However, our necks are perfectly designed that we can gaze at the stars with wonder and delight! […]

Balancing Active Asanas with Passive Asanas, Does that Work?

Yoga is beautifully set up with a balance between energetic, extrovert practices such as asana and kriya and introspective, introvert practices such as meditation and pranayama. Even with pranayama itself such a balance can be achieved by breathing more through the left or right nostril respectively. Nowadays, because our society suffers from increased extroversion (result of too much prana in Pingala – right nostril) the most extravert aspect of yoga (asana- posture) has acquired much fame. If only asana is practiced then the tendency towards extraversion is increased […]

The End of the Guru Part 3

In the wake of the Anusara-, Kausthub Desikachar-, Bikram-, and Satyananda lineage scandals I am asking myself why so many gurus in the last 40 years have been deconstructed? Does this mean that gurus have always behaved like this or has something fundamentally changed? And why are spiritual teachers now possibly needed more than ever before?

Saving Your Neck, Understanding the Biomechanics of Neck Problems – Part 1

Our necks are one of the most vulnerable parts of our body and once we have a neck problem they can be complex to resolve.

There are a few reasons why the neck cops the brunt of it. Firstly the neck or cervical spine has the greatest range of movement possible in the entire spine. This is partially due to the specific angle of the facet joints that connect each vertebra to the next but also due to the high ratio of vertebral body to disc height. This means that the vertebral discs in our neck are the thinnest and thereby the most vulnerable.

The End of the Guru Part 2

Could it be that in order to develop your highest potential you have to blaze your own trail? Whether we find that to be true or not I believe that this world is in a deep spiritual crisis and spiritual teachers are in demand as never before. On the other hand the current trajectory of gurus being debunked one after the other for sexual abuse, manipulation, psycho-terror, accumulation of massive wealth, etc. deeply mars the prospects of spirituality to revolutionize our society and propel our evolution. And this despite the fact that this evolution and revolution is absolutely urgent and imperative as it can turn us away from the chasm of ecocide (destruction of our biosphere).
Let me propose a few ideas, which may enable spiritual development such as yoga to take on this role. These ideas are intended to create an ecology (relationship of organisms towards each other) and hygiene of the student/ teacher relationship. I propose that what we need are teachers that know, in Ram Dass’ words, that they are just ‘showing’ the path but that they ‘are’ not the path.

Sparing Your Spine Off The Mat

We give a lot of attention to what we do on our mat, precision, alignment, conscious movement, etc. However, it is what we do most that matters the most and most of this time is off our mat! The relatively short time we spend doing our yoga practice can never compensate for what we do for the other 22 hours of the day. The greatest stress for most people is the static monotonous postures that we adopt. That spells out as lack of movement being the greatest problem.

The End of the Guru, Part 1

A reader asked: “What are your thoughts on the need of a guru? Ramana Maharshi said that the guru and the self are the same so it seems that a guru could be unnecessary?” Nowadays a lot of people say that they teach in the Ramana Maharshi lineage. However, Ramana himself repeatedly observed, “I did not have a guru and I will not have disciples”. Although he himself is often cited as the sadguru (teachers teacher) he refused to be classified in this way.

As already hinted at in my previous post on “Personality Cults and Charlatans”, gurus are making poor headlines in recent years.

Hypermobility – A Blessing or A Curse

Many talented yogis seem to be blessed with bodies that are able to perform a myriad of different and for others seemingly impossible yoga postures. However, after more than 30 years of teaching my observation and personal experience is that it is often these ‘talented’ very flexible yogis who are much more vulnerable to injury and thereby have more physical problems than their stiffer colleagues.

Not surprisingly yoga attracts these flexible bodies. Often this natural flexibility is in fact joint hypermobility due to a generalised laxity in connective tissue.

Pranayama versus Jnana Yoga

One of my readers posted the following question: Is it absolutely necessary to practice asana and pranayama to evolve to the highest human level or is it possible to do so by exclusively following the path of Jnana Yoga as taught by the likes of Ramana Maharshi or Nisargadatta Maharaj?
First I would like to point out that Ramana and Nisargadatta are in Western countries very differently portrayed than in India […]