Who is in Charge?

I am reposting this article with permission from My Life Yoga blog on the ego and our illusion of reality, enjoy!

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Pettry amzanig huh?

The above paragraph illustrates that we do not read by assembling letters into words from left to right. Instead we use forecasting to predict what a jumble of letters means. This allows us to read fast and correct for errors.

The key idea here is that forecasting is central to how we function. This is not limited to just reading but pretty much everything we do. The central aspect of forecasting is that it needs a model. A model is an idea of how something works. Once the model is in place we can input a limited number of details and simulate the rest. When we read the words in the first paragraph we are able to simulate the words in the original sentence through the model of English Language in our head. Somebody who is not a native English speaker may find it hard to read the first paragraph because the English model in his head may not be very good.

When sight is restored to somebody who has been blind since birth, he does not immediately begin to “see”. All he sees is fuzzy formless light. It may take months, if not years before normal seeing commences. This is because the person has no model for vision. Only once this is built can normal sight work. When we look around the room we do not scan every part of the room starting with the top left corner zigzagging down. Instead we take in the details of a few spots and simulate the rest using our in-built model for sight.

So here are some details of the models in our head:

1. Our models may not be perfect but they work.
2. Our models may work but they are not complete.

Some philosophers have suggested that since our perception of reality is based on simulation of imperfect models that all reality that we perceive is merely illusory. This may be not be an appropriate way of interpreting this discussion. The models in our head are pretty good because they work and reliably allow us to navigate the world.

However, we must not go to the other extreme. Just because these models work, in the current context, we must not assume that these model represent reality completely. These models are just good enough for our species to survive and get by. For example we do not see in the ultra-violet or infrared spectrum. We are completely oblivious to that portion of reality. In fact the model of reality in our head is like the tip of the iceberg. What we know and perceive is vastly undermined by what we are ignorant and oblivious of. For example, who knows how a whale percieves the world?

Similar to the models of the external world we also have a model of our internal selves. This model of ourselves is termed as an ego. Just like we think that the model of external reality is complete we are fooled into believing that we are our egos.

Our ego is not our complete self. It is at best a very incomplete model of ourselves in our head. The journey of yoga is a journey into a deeper dive into ourselves. It is a journey of discovery of that portion of us that lies beyond the ego. In fact the root of most of our problems lies in the subtle belief that we are our ego and the interest of our ego and our deeper selves is the same. We spend every moment of our conscious experience as captives of our ego-identity. We think, emote, and act on behalf of our ego, little knowing that we are spending our lives at the service of a wrong master.

The journey of discovery of our identity beyond our ego is not an easy one but it may be the most important journey we may undertake. After all who wants to spend a lifetime as a slave of something only to realize that it was all in vain?

Getting Un-Stuck: Spiritual Housecleaning For The Yogi Soul

Brian Aganad giving Andy a yoga adjustment photo by Tara Rice

Even if we try not to, we inadvertently acquire too much “stuff” as we go along and we have two choices…

get rid of it…


let it bog us down…

According to Feng Shui it’s not always the mess in the garage that is the problem, but what it represents.

Clearing clutter is all about letting go, and letting go of the fear that we must hoard things because we lack faith in the abundance of the universe.

In order to make room in our lives for growth we must continually let go of that which no longer serves us.

This could be a toaster oven, a relationship, or boxes of stuff that should be given to Goodwill, there are many places were we hold onto things long after we should have let go.

Part of the problem is that we are continually being told we “need” things. It is part of who we have become as a society.

We are consumers and hoarders, and we live in a culture of “more is better”. Thoreau wrote “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”

In yoga we move from the external obvious things slowly inward to the subtle work.

Over time our practice evolves from doing the perfect Triangle Pose to shedding self-defeating behaviors that are holding back our spiritual and emotional growth. Yogic philosophy calls these self limiting beliefs samskaras, these are the impressions left behind by previous thoughts and actions both good and bad. Samskaras are what keep us stuck like a broken record unable to change its tune, you either change the record or you get to listen to the monotonous song of your past karma!

Old attitudes, belief systems, prejudices, and habits that we hold dear are examples of samskaras. It’s what makes you judge a situation, person, place or thing in advance, and in so doing rob yourself from the real experience. It takes us out of the preciousness of living in this very moment and drags us into the past, preventing change.

Time to get off the merry go round of “what happened to me,” clean out those spiritual cobwebs and be free!

As a good friend of mine reminded me the other day, yoga is not just to make our bodies flexible, it is so our minds may be more flexible as well.

Our spirits and minds get bogged down with scars from past experiences that cloud the way we perceive things. In one word “Baggage”!

If it’s no longer serving you its holding you back, let it go!

The Dream Song ~ By My Friend Matt McMahon

Dancing in rain

The Dream Song
I live my life like a dream
And create my own reality
I close my eyes when I sleep
And keep them wide open when I dream
Nothing is out of reach
My fantasies are handed to me
It feels like magic
Some good, some tragic
Life is not what it seems
So I get to choose what to believe
To find the truth inside of me
I live my life like a dream


5 Quick Tips For Making New Yoga Friends (and Avoid Having “Yoga Frenemies”)

yoga friends in Italia! Angela Kukhahn, Cortland, Sonya, Desirre, Stephanie, Tara RiceMaking new yoga friends may not be your ‘top priority’ in life, but if you don’t want to make any yoga ‘frenemies’ and you want to ensure that people will move their mats over to squeeze you in next time you show up late to a packed yoga class, here is what to do…

1. Nobody else has the Miley Cyrus ringtone, we all know its you. Be a good yogi and take the walk of shame over to the ‘cubbies’ and turn it off. We forgive you, admire you a little (that took guts!) and you just earned yourself some good karma points too!

2. Leaving your yogitoes ‘skidless’ mat cover rolled up in your yoga mat so that the bacteria can fester and breed in the tropical like conditions of your car trunk is not called being ‘eco-friendly’ it called something else,…disgusting! (Ewwww.) If you breed a new kind of Fungi on that thing that is later named after you don’t say I didn’t warn you…wash it! (The entire yoga class thanks you! )

3. We understand you like burritos and we do too,… but not before yoga class please. (I thought we talked about this, no?)

4. Chewing gum is a yoga don’t, and it’s not just because everyone is jealous over how cool and nonchalant you look rolling into class with a mouthful of Blueberry Blast Bubbalicious. (Although admittedly, that is a factor)

5. There is your ‘garden variety’ moaning, and then there are moans of a different ‘variety’,…let’s keep it PG here people. Do it for the children,… and the people around you trying really hard not to die laughing. (or throw up a little bit in their mouth)




Lately I have been really thinking a lot about community, otherwise know as “organisms inhabiting a common environment and interacting with one another” (thank you Wikipedia)

As many of you know I had an injury last year that had me modifying my practice pretty dramatically for a good month and a half. So there I was at home with my dear little mat doing a very modified home practice. Sure, I missed my “full yoga practice”, but I realized it was more than that; I missed the “community” that comes with being in a group class. (Who knew I could wax sentimental over not being able to go a hot, intense, vinyasa flow class and hang out for 90 mins with a bunch of other sweaty people?) To my delight and surprise I received some” get well soon” notes from fellow yogis from class, asking me where I’d been, and wishing me a quick recovery!

This got me thinking about the importance of reaching out to one another, and how we need community in our lives. I think we humans have become almost too successful at building a world around us that allows us to be self sufficient, and capable of surviving on our own.

Not having to depend on our neighbors for survival is for the most part a good thing. However, I think for a lot of us that means not bothering to get to know our neighbors at all. There is something miraculous and wonderful about belonging and being a part of a “tribe” or “group”. We may not need each other to survive in a physical sense of the word, but we all do need others to spiritually and emotionally to encourage us and lift us up! Yoga means to yoke or “union” and it truly does bring us together. I am so amazed at the strong bonds of friendship and community that it has brought into my life!
Today as I arrived at my yoga class I marveled at the swarm of yogis coming and going from the studio greeting, hugging, laughing. I sat there feeling so incredibly blessed!
I encourage, and challenge you to get to know the yogi on the mat next to you; they may just turn out to be a lifelong friend.

Are You a Yoga Bully?

Have you ever considered that you may be bullying yourself in your own yoga practice?

No, I did not write this article to scold you for forgetting to sign in to class, to tell you what a naughty yogi you are for coming in late, nor will I make you admit and apologize for “The farts of yoga classes past”. (No more pre-yoga burritos people)

When I use the term bully it is more in terms of how you approach your own personal practice.

Sure, we all have good intentions. At least for the first five seconds before we get thrown the first karmic curveball.

You just so happen to roll out your yoga mat next to the person twisting themselves into Cirque de Soliel worthy shapes…

Of course then our friend ‘Mr Ego’ decides to pay a visit to your mat.

You know you should feel content (santosha) breathing next to your bendy classmate in your suddenly meager looking half splits. And for the next three long seconds you really do try, you really do…

But, the next thing you know you are trying to push your poor little bottom down the last two inches into the full splits. (Ta Da!)

Your dear little bottom doesn’t like it one bit, but it goes down. (Ouch!)

Sure, basking in the glory of full Hanumanasana Splits is undoubtedly exciting! Pulled groin muscle and ice pack? Not so much!

Over at the YisforYogini blog my friend writes

“I resist my limits. I like to believe I have none. In effect, I spend much of my practice not truly listening to myself (the real me, not my football coach alter-ego). I am aware, however, and this means I can change. I, too, can be a sensualist!”

Read the full article HERE its brilliant!

She talks about being either a Yoga Pusher or a Yoga Sensualist. What are you? Are you listening or are you pushing?

Hope, Believe, Just Be

“Hope is a thing with feathers
that perches on the soul,
and sings the tune without the words
and never stops at all”

– Emily Dickenson

One of the rare lines of poetry that I can recite from heart. I think that hopes and dreams cannot be overstated. These are what get us through the rough patches. This is what makes us ignore overwhelming difficulties and reach beyond for a better day.

You are never so hopeless that you cannot dream. There is no place so low that dreams are not possible. Believe in yourself, this is the first step. Stay true to yourself, invest yourself in right actions. You have no control over the rest. Do not become disheartened by things that are not under your control. The yoga teaches us to show up, do our best work and then let it go.

Control is an illusion.

Let it Go…

Forget what should be or what ought to be. Be with what is, breath with it, move inside the present moment. Progress cannot be made when we are avoiding the what is.

When you take the energy you previously used trying to control situations and apply it to right action you will become like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of your past.

Break free of doubt, cynicism and fear…

Believe that good will overcome.

It always does.

Staying Connected to the Divine

We all have days that we feel a part of something bigger. Like we plugged into the power source and everything is running as it should.

Then we have the “other days”

We feel disconnected, powerless and isolated.

How far away we feel from a Higher Power and question its existence. We lose perspective. We begin to wonder what our purpose is, or perhaps, if we even have a purpose at all.

It is important to remember on days like these that the answers are inside of us.

Our connection to the divine has not gone anywhere, we just stopped listening. The power, the truth and the connectedness are always available to us when we need it. You will find it between the in breath and the out breath that still small voice whispering the answers if you’ll only stop to listen.