Archive for the ‘ Teaching Yoga ’ Category

Finding Serenity – Check Out This Documentary on The Buddha

On Wednesday, April 7, 2010, at 8:00 p.m. ET, PBS will bring to life Siddhartha and his journey in THE BUDDHA, a two-hour documentary directed by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin.

“Buddhism is growing more and more popular in America,” said David Grubin. “But the Buddha himself remains a mysterious, exotic figure, the founder of a religion in a different key. The Buddha never claimed to be God, or his emissary on earth. He said only that in a world of unavoidable pain and suffering, he had found a serenity which others could find too. In our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion, the Buddha’s teachings have particular relevance.”

The Buddha – Documentary Overview

This documentary for PBS by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin and narrated by Richard Gere, tells the story of the Buddha’s life, a journey especially relevant to our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion. It features the work of some of the world’s greatest artists and sculptors, who across two millennia, have depicted the Buddha’s life in art rich in beauty and complexity.

Hear insights into the ancient narrative by contemporary Buddhists, including Pulitzer Prize winning poet W.S. Merwin and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Join the conversation and learn more about meditation, the history of Buddhism, and how to incorporate the Buddha’s teachings on compassion and mindfulness into daily life.

Two-thousand-five-hundred years ago in northern India, Prince Siddhartha left his palace where he had spent twenty-nine years indulging in pleasures. He was determined to comprehend the nature of human suffering. After a grueling spiritual quest that lasted six years, he at last attained enlightenment meditating under a fig tree. He became the Buddha, the “awakened one,” and devoted the rest of his life to teaching the way to enlightenment that he himself had found, giving birth to one of the world’s great religions.

The film, narrated by actor Richard Gere, is undertaken in conjunction with Asia Society Museum, which has organized an exhibition entitled Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art, the first-ever exhibition examining artistic production inspired by sacred sites and the practice of Buddhist pilgrimage in Asia.

Grubin, who directed the critically acclaimed series of films on American presidents including “LBJ,” “FDR” and “Truman” as well as other award-winning series such as THE JEWISH AMERICANS, THE SECRET LIFE OF THE BRAIN and NAPOLEON, tells the story of the Buddha through ancient artwork that depicts the various stages of Siddhartha’s journey, contemporary animation that vividly portrays the legends surrounding the Buddha and contemporary footage of northern India, where many of the religious rituals from the Buddha’s time are still practiced today.

Experts on the Buddha, representing a variety of disciplines, relate the key episodes of the Buddha’s life and reflect on what his journey means for us today. They include His Holiness the Dalai Lama; poets Jane Hirshfield and W.S. Merwin; scholars Robert Thurman, Kevin Trainor and Dr. Max Moerman; astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan; and psychiatrist Mark Epstein, as well as practicing Buddhist monastics.

“By continuing our exploration of the world’s religions, we are delighted to participate in broadening people’s understanding of Buddhism today with David Grubin’s moving portrait of the life of the Buddha,” said John F. Wilson, PBS senior vice president and chief TV programming executive. “This film exposes not just the man, but also his rich teachings, which we hope will spark a larger conversation about religion and spirituality.”

Music for Today:  Edge of the Ocean (featuring Ivy), Ivy (The Best of Chillout Past and Present, 2004)

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Bacon and Yoga – Together at Last

Possibly one of the biggest debates in the yoga community is around food, ahimsa (non-harming), and health.  An article in the New York Times includes an in-depth view on the wide range of ideas surrounding yoga and food choices. Can you be a yogi who also appreciates a burger or even bacon every now and then? What about wine or chocolate? Some say yes, some say no…

There is a full spectrum of opinions on the subject – everything from eating anything you choose to being a vegetarian to  ensuring that each vegetable you eat is grown in an atmosphere of positive energy. That’s right,  some do not believe that an all-vegan, organic, low-carbon-footprint diet is pure enough: each vegetable must be grown in an atmosphere of positive energy. Seems unattainable or even a bit excessive, but what a beautiful concept.

It’s an interesting question – is it more important to be vegetarian or to be concerned with where your meat – or any food –  is coming from?  Does buying organic, free of pesticides/hormones, low carbon footprint or even buying locally take precedence over being a vegetarian? Does any sort of precedence even come into play?

Maybe the middle path is best – follow a diet that suites you according to your yoga philosophy and refrain from judging those who choose differently.  If we become intolerant towards those who eat meat, is that an act of kindness? Mary Taylor, a student of Julia Child, asks: “If your grandmother is making a wonderful meat dish that you have loved since you were a child, is it yoga to push it away?”

No matter where you stand on the issue, it’s hard to argue with this quote by Dave Romanelli:  “What yoga teachers do and what chefs do is not so different. We take everyday actions like moving and eating, and slow you down so you can appreciate them.” Basically, achieving stillness and peace amid the distractions of life has always been the higher goal of yoga.

Whether talking about opinions on food or other lifestyle choices, intention is key.  It’s not just what your life choices are or why you choose them – it’s the intention behind how you carry those choices through your life and in what way you choose to extend them to others.

Music for today: Believe in Love, The Wooden Birds  (Magnolia, 2009)

And so it starts…

My much long and awaited for yoga teacher training course has just started. As many of you know, I have been wanting to go through a teacher training course for quite some time now. After just three days of the course, I am stoked.

Interestingly enough, I am never quite sure how to answer the question, “Why do you want to teach yoga?” Well, at least, how to answer it concisely. So hmm, why do I want to teach yoga? Well, I want to teach people how to take yoga off their mats. Yoga is not just a set of postures that one does and then leaves on the mat after the class ends. Yoga is an attitude. It’s a mindset. It’s our demeanor. It’s how we treat others. It’s how we treat ourselves. It’s how we choose to understand ourselves as well as one another. I want to teach yoga because I want to extend the experience of living a “yoga-centric” life that isn’t confined to happening on a yoga mat.

Ultimately, I want to teach people how to adapt their yoga practice to align with each of their specific needs. Part of practicing yoga is learning how to adapt the practice to meet us where we are at that moment. As we all know, we each endure mental and phsyical shifts from day to day; a yoga practice should also adapt to meet those fluctuating needs. Many try to fit themselves to yoga, but it’s important for yoga to be fit to each person.

Outside of my long-term teaching goal, my universal goal is to engage in this training with integrity and to learn how to teach with that same integrity. I want my practice, on and off of the mat, to reflect the love I have for myself, friends and family, students, yoga, and life itself.

And so it starts…

Music for today: Sea of Love, Cat Power (The Covers Record, 2000)