Published Articles

When I arrived in San Francisco in 1979, the Yoga Journal was still in its infancy and the yoga scene was also quite young. Writers were needed to help get yoga practice out into the world and I volunteered. This is most of the output from those days, but there are still a few missing pieces from early IYI Reviews that I am trying to track down. I have scanned the ones here from either the originals, or copies I have managed to retain, so please excuse the quality.  For several others, you are linked directly to the whole magazine where you will have to search a bit. If you google books‘Yoga Journal, 1990’, you can find complete issues with pdf’s of the asana column series with much better quality than I have here. If you dig more deeply into the google store archives, you will find many more excellent articles on yoga by Judith Lasater, Donald Moyer, Carol Cavanaugh, Linda Cogozzo and Dona Farhi.

The American Yoga Newsletter, (AYN), the brainchild of dear friend and now co-publisher of Rodmell Press, Linda Cogozzo, was published by the Yoga Journal, (YJ), from 1983 to 1985.
Linda was the assistant editor at the Yoga Journal for most of the 1980’s when I was in my peak writing phase. We were often co-conspirators in trying to keep ‘yoga’ in the Yoga Journal, as Stephen Bodian, the editor in chief, was more Buddhist in his practice. But for the 80’s anyway, it was America’s foremost spiritual magazine.

IYIR

 

The IYI Review, (IYIR), was the newsletter of the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco published in the 1980’s. Carol Cavanaugh began as editor in 1980 and I took over sometime in the mid 80’s. The first major article I wrote was ‘Awakening the Intelligence of the Body’, in 1983. It is a bit convoluted, but shows my early attempts to make sense of the energy body. The first two pages did not scan well, so I retyped them.

I wrote the Asana Column for the Yoga Journal Magazine in 1990.  It was a fun exercise in choosing key poses to highlight the main principles in asana practice. (You may recognize the lovely model who helped out in presenting the material.) I also was able to weave in some of the Cosmic dimensions that were coming from my work with Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme. Soon after this, we would leave the Bay Area for Boston, and between opening Mystic River Yoga and starting a family, the time and energy for writing stopped. Only in the last few years have I begun to write again, with the blog being my outlet.

Yoga: An Antidote to Stress: YJ, October 1982

Dona Holleman: Teacher of Teachers: YJ, October 1982

Starting a Pranayama Practice: YJ, March/April 1983

Yoga for Asthma: YJ, May/June 1983

Understanding Twists: AYN, June, 1983

Awakening the Intelligence of the Body: IYIR, October 1983

Safe Practice of Inversions: YJ,  November/December, 1983

Dona Holleman: AYN, December, 1983

Protecting the Knees: AYN,  April, 1984

Understanding Twists: YJ, September/October 1984

Standing Your Ground: AYN,  May, 1985

Developing Arm Stength in Asana: YJ, January/February 1986

Reflections on Pune: IYIR, March, 1987

Froggie Yoga (for hips and thighs): YJ, May/June 1989

Tadasana: YJ,  January/February, 1990

Parivrtta Trikonasana: YJ, March/April 1990

Upavistha Konasana: YJ, May/June, 1990

Sirsasana: YJ, July/August 1990

Sarvangasana: YJ, September/October, 1990

Urdhva Dhanurasana: YJ, November/December, 1990

 

 

 

 

 

Recent Posts

Micro-Cosmic Orbit: Pt 2

Exploring and Embodying Three Dimensions

In the previous post we explored the micro-cosmic orbit as a means to refine our focal attention (samadhi) through bringing our attention to specific points along the orbit and linking these points into lines, arcs and circles. As we work more deeply this way, we may discover that we can find these points at three levels. The first is out beyond the confines of the skin, in an ‘orbit’ in the energy field around the body. The second is directly on the skin, where an acupuncturist or shiatsu practitioner would apply needles or pressure. The third is in the interior of the body along the planes of fascia interwoven through the organs, blood vessels and nerves. When we can feel all three of these levels simultaneously, we are inhabiting our spherical energy field and can begin to fully realize the possibilities of having three dimensional/spatial sensitivity, perception and consciousness.

images-5The girdle vessel (Dai Mai,) the fourth vessel we use, is a latitude line and is essential in finding our three dimensional perceptual field. This yang vessel pairs with the yin ‘thrusting vessel, the vertical center axis, creating horizontal stability, and allowing us to rotate/twist. Rotation inherently builds the third dimension of depth ( A circle has length and width. To create a sphere you add depth. ) and is the gateway to cosmic awareness as well as a more vibrant embodied presence.

Rotation drives the whole manifest universe. In our solar system, the planets spiral around milky_waythe sun. In our Milky Way galaxy, the stars, including our sun, spiral around a center (probably a giant black hole! If you can find Sagittarius in the night sky, and you will probably have to wait until next summer, look through and imagine 26,000 light years off in the distance.) The earth rotates on its own axis creating weather patterns as well as a sense of day and night.

The spinning top (one of the oldest toys known to humans, found in archeological sites all over the world) demonstrates the cosmic principle in physics we are embodying. The faster it rotates, the more stable the vertical line. When the top slows down it starts to wobble and when it stops spinning, it falls over. To keep the rotation, you need to keep feeding it with energy. The bicycle uses this same principle, flipped 90 degrees. Another aspect we explore is the radius of the horizontal circle. Rotation pushes from the center outward (yang) in what is called centrifugal force. As this is counterbalanced by theGM2434B-1 yin centripetal (center seeking) force, we can change the volume of the energy field by playing with this ‘expanding – condensing’, yang – yin relationship.

In this top, the widest circle with the most outward thrust, the purple one, is below the center of the vertical axis. Lowering the center of gravity adds even more stability, which is why we emphasize the lower dantien in our breathing, movement and meditation practice. When we discover how to work with this principle in the energy field, our twisting poses can actually help expand the body. If we work muscularly, you will feel constricting in twisting poses.

SBK_1711254-24Traditionally the ‘dai mai’ girdle vessel surrounds the body at the level of the pelvis in the lower dantien. but we can move our attention to awaken other ‘latitudes’ of the body. To begin in the feet, stand with the right foot forward, the left foot back, as if you are about to move into a standing twist (without the forward bend), but haven’t yet begun. Before you move any further, imagine a spiraling coil of energy beginning below the floor (the Antarctic Circle) and traveling up the center. Notice how this mimics the girdle vessel. Now imagine the coils widening as they rise up from the base ( moving toward the equator), as the yang energy expands outward. The girdle vessel is very yang so this is quite natural. Feel the energetic volume expanding and condensing with the breath, but slowly expanding in overall volume

To awaken the front body-yin energy field, we can take the hoop forward to fully engage the arms and shoulders. Now imagine the hoops extends through the back body, receiving the rising spiral and expanding as the action of twisting. SBK_1711254-2SBK_1711254-9Most students eventually leave half of the body behind and end up contracting rather than expanding, especially along the spine column. Imagine the center of the spinal canal opening outward in an expanding circle/spiral, melting the tissue, feeling spaciousness, transcending the limitations of structure.SBK_1711254-4 (My front foot turns out much more than average to release the inner groin. Don’t feel you have to imitate this, but find out for yourself where openness and balance meet.) The hoop is moved to the front to expand the yin/organ/front body qi field and expand the ‘wings’ of the body, but also feel the back body softening and opening. This feeling can be evoked in sitting, lying and inverted twists as well. If you do not have a hula hoop handy, you can also use a thera-ball to find the volume.SBK_1711254-8

 

Another key component awakened here is the Pericardium 8 point, PC-8 (or P-8) in the center of the palms. Analagous to the K-1 points on the feet, P-8 is a gateway between the inner and outer qi fields. The SBK_1711254-11Pericardium, the fascial connective tissue membrane surrounding the heart, arises embryologically from the same cells and tissues that create the diaphragm and liver. The ‘heart protector’ literally does this, on many levels. As someone with a well-armored heart, I am finding that opening and nurturing the heart protector so that is does its job with over doing it is awakening a level of sweet vulnerability that is both precious and scary.

SBK_1711254-12In acupuncture, the pericardium meridian is part of the JueYin channel and connects all the way through the femoral canal to the legs. For those of you who have been practicing ‘climbing the wall’ for the last few years, you can actually trace the whole fascial continuity of the Jue Yin. (Use imagination to fill in the blanks.) Rise up from K-1 (not the heels, even though they do rise on their own) (DFL for those of you who know Tom Myers’ ‘Anatomy Trains’ system) to P-8, passing through liver, diaphragm and pericardium.

You can also track the qi from P-8 back into the body horizontally, again using the wall.SBK_1711254-14 Using the tip of the  middle finger of your other hand (PC-9) to feel the connections, trace the qi from the the wall and P-8 into the area around the pec minor muscle and then go inside the body to the pericardiam itself, along with the liver and diaphragm. Use the breath and your imagination. Then go back and try the twistings shown above with these new perceptions.

SBK_1711254-20To continue our building of a three dimensional perceptual qi field, we can return to the thera-ball to provide sensation and visualization. I like the feel of my third chakra having organ support, so I find placing the ball there and using a wall creates a powerful presence on the inside. Embryologically speaking, this is the extemely yin yolk sac which becomes the entire gut body. The conception vessel points on the micro-cosmic orbit are stimulated by the ball, bringing sensation and perception here. The liver comes from the yolk sac, so I can use this position to also find the Jue Yin channel we explored above. Lying SBK_1711254-19over the ball in a forward bend creates a similar feeling, with even more yielding and softening to the yang back body erector muscles. By moving the ball to the sternum, I can activate a new set of points on the conception vessel and engage the inner tissues surrounding the 4th chakra

If I want to build up my back field perception, I use the ball from behind and awaken sensation on the yang Governing Vessel.SBK_1711254-16 Here I have dropped it a bit lower to find the sacral-lumbar junction and here I can feel the possibility of both lumbar flexion and extension, from S curve to C curve and back.  The very important GV-4 Qi gong Image‘gate of vitality’ is here The inner abdominal space also opens and the front back and center plane begin to become conscious. This becomes trickier as you move upwards towards the liver. You can place the ball anywhere and feel different points coming alive. Feel their inner as well as outer presence. Back support can also help open the front. I haveSBK_1711254-17been trying to open my throat more for my sax sound and using the ball (or any elastic support) helps soften and melt tight tissue.

SBK_1711254-21Fish body support, opening some Gall Bladder Meridian points is another way to use the ball. I am using the wall, but this can be done on the floor as well, with slightly different effects. All of these ways of playing with the three dimensional field are ways of awakening and establishing a dynamic energetic field, centered in your heart, and radiating out throughout the whole of the cosmos. When you are out in Nature, feel this. When you are out and about in the human sphere, feel how you respond. It is fascinating to see what happens.

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