Category Archives: inspire

Extraordinary circumstances

Release of a net-entangled whale leads to joyful leaps

I ran into a video about the liberation of a humpback whale ensnared in fish netting off the Mexican Pacific coast. A group of conservationist was filming whales and came across this animal, appearing to be close to death. The video shows how the people cut free the netting over at least an hour of patiently working with the whale. In the end, the last strands were cut and the whale was free. Within a few minutes, the group viewed a 30-minute display of the whale breaching the surf, slapping its tail and fins, and other aquatic acrobacy as a celebration of its reacquired freedom and, perhaps, even a gesture of gratitude to the humans who had intervened in her release from bondage and death.

This video has already been seen seven million so it’s already had its turn as a viral video on the Web, so it needs no push from me into the limelight. I still thought those leaps of animal joy out of the Pacific demonstrated the sheer emotion of freedom.

The Great Whale Conservancy  supports work to protect the great whales and their habitat so a plug goes to them.


The Heart Dance –

Have you ever visualize how blood flows through your body and returns to the heart?

Gil Hedley, the anatomist who has done so much to make us rethink our understanding of our bodies by doing the detail work of picking apart corpses, has a playful side to him and he has put it to use in explaining the synchronized flow of blood from the heart out to the capillaries of the extremities and back.

Gil has several other videos on YouTube,  including the now famous Fuzz Speech about fascia and stretching, synthesizing why we do yoga to “melt the fuzz.”  You can get more information on his website, including his teaching schedule, and his Facebook page. If you are not among the 344,000-plus who have seen the Fuzz Speech, you should watch it and let the message sink in.

For those with more time on their hands, they can watch his entire video series, Integral Anatomy, all seven hours of it, which has been free on the web for since February.

On becoming a yoga agnostic

Photo: Michael moves into full wheel pose, with aid from friend and Desirée
Urdhva Dhanurasana or wheel pose

I have changed the tag line to this blog. It used to be “breath, energy, life, spirit = self-discovery through yoga,” dating from my innocent introduction  to pranayama and other yogic arts. Now it is “A yoga agnostic explores life, breath, spirit and beyond, one asana at a time.”

In the midst of my personal traumas and upheaval over the past eight months, I have undergone a quiet shift in my yoga practice and my beliefs: I have become a yoga agnostic. How do I define that status? I no longer pledge allegiance to a lineage, yoga system, teacher, guru, historical narrative or ideology. I simply believe in the empirical evidence that manifests itself every time I roll out the mat or shift into meditation. It can be really

A lot of freedom comes once I cut the emotional binds that lock me to a “5000-year-old tradition”  or a business model based on the American obsession with bodily perfection. I don’t have to cling to yoga as a cure for migraines,  back pain or leprosy (or whatever condition you wan to slot in there). I don’t have to doubt myself when I am not able to cure myself. I just know that it’s part of my daily hygiene. I don’t have to make a pilgrimage to Pune or Mysore in India to acquire true knowledge. I don’t have to read sacred texts or learn Sanskrit.

This change has been brewing for a long time, perhaps, when I injured my knee and realized that yoga does not protect me magically from injury or disease. Or when I read Mark Singleton’s Yoga Body, in which he challenged misconceptions about the origins and evolution of modern yoga, and realized that a lot of myth-making occurred when yoga was reincarnated in modern India and then was transported to the United States. Or when I hear old-school yogis complaining about the commercialization of yoga in the States.

Resonating with a song

During lunch today, I was checking a couple of link lists that I had not used in a long time, and I chanced across this video of a jaw-dropping song by Peter Mayer: Holy Now. It made me wake up and pay attention.

I included the version with lyrics as captions because they are so powerful. The church lines come straight out of my childhood (though I did not have a priest, but a pastor, who happened to be my father).