Holiday Greetings! As we move closer to the nadir of darkness (winter Solstice), daylight becomes rarer and more precious. This morning, after a deep practice, I just stared out the window at the amazing light of the new dawn. It was breath-taking!
There is a preciousness in the waning of the light. It reminds me of the preciousness of life and how little time we have on this earth. I’m filled with gratitude for all the abundance in my life – abundance of love, relationship, health, purpose, community, and meaningfulness. It reminds me not to take life for granted because it is here today and gone tomorrow.
Knowing that our time here is short informs my life in a profound way. I choose to risk being authentic and truthful rather than lying to protect myself or another. I prioritize serving others and shining my light instead of playing small. I choose to rise up in times of challenge rather than shut down and allow fear to stop me.
When I reflect over the past year, I am grateful for the blessings I’ve received both personally and professionally. I had my busiest year of teaching on record. I taught 160 days and traveled 58 days. I taught to sold out rooms in San Antonio, Toronto Yoga Conference, Essex, NY, Defiance, OH, Redding, CT, Kripalu Yoga Teachers Conference, Portland, ME, Nantucket Yoga Festival, Collingwood, ON, Fayetteville, WV, and Cincinnati, OH. In addition, I co-taught with my dear friend and teacher Professor Douglas Brooks, world renown tantric scholar, in Lenox, MA. It was thrilling!
Ashaya Yoga® grew and expanded exponentially. In September of this year, there were a total of five Ashaya Yoga 200-Hour Trainings happening at the same time – in Bethlehem, PA, Indianapolis, IN, Fayetteville, WV, Ontario, and British Columbia, Canada! Thanks to all the Ashaya Trainers for their incredible dedication and commitment to bring more light and love into this world. The Trainers are: Randy Boyd, Silver Kim, Shirlee Williams, Janie Gunn, and Mark Killion (pictured below respectively). I refined my 200-Hour and 300-Hour Teacher Training curriculum and manuals. The 200-Hour manual is now over 480 pages and I’ve completed eight 300-Hour manuals for eight of the ten modules.
As for my personal life… what personal life you might ask? (Just kidding.) I have a wonderful personal life. I continue to practice, study, travel, write, hang out with Ann (my wife) and maintain our house, lawn mower, cars, and pay bills (as per the normal householder path). My morning practice continues to be the crown jewel and highlight of my day. When I come home from traveling, I love being greeted by Ann who has been an angel of love and support. I swim with the US Masters Swim team twice a week, ride my bike, and xc ski when the conditions are right. In July, we saw James Taylor in concert live at Tanglewood. In August, we went to Cape Cod on vacation. We used to go every year for the last 15 years, but we hadn’t been there for four years. It was so wonderful to return.
I continue to experience robust health, even as I age. Thank God for yoga! However, I’ve developed osteoarthritis in my right hip. The X-ray showed I have FAI (femoral acetabular impingement) and moderate to severe osteoarthritis which explains why I was having pain in my right adductor muscle after doing backbends for the last couple of years. FAI forms during childhood usually from sports and other activities. It’s characterized by a misshaped femoral head, shaft, or acetabulum. Osteoarthritis is both genetic and environmental. I have a bone-on-bone situation which scared me at first. I was told the only option was a total hip replacement. But the fact is, I’m not in a lot of pain right now. My PT told me that it was my yoga that warded off the pain for all of these years, and that if anyone can live without cartilage in the hip, it would be me! I’m grateful for the practice of therapeutic alignment. From my personal experience, I can say with confidence that this stuff works! I’ve decided to wait before I consider surgery. If I get to a place where the pain increases, then I’ll consider taking the next step.
Upon reflection, I see that my hip issue is really a blessing in disguise. I’ve learned so much about yoga for osteoarthritis of the hip. I’ve created new hip routines and several “never-before-seen” therapeutic poses which I’m excited to share with others.
In addition, I’ve added some new Ayurveda cleansing practices to my daily routine. I highly recommend this to anyone wishing to improve their overall health and vitality:
- Colorado Cleanse: I do this once or twice a year, led by Dr. John Douilliard. This is 14-day cleansing program with herbs, oils, hydration therapy, and a simple diet, aimed at making you a better digester of food. One reason why people have so many allergies and other illnesses is that their digestive fire is weak. Mine was. But now it’s getting stronger and my allergies have decreased.
- Tongue scraping: a technique which helps get rid of toxins.
- Neti Pot followed by nasal oil: Neti is a practice of cleansing the nostrils and sinuses with a salt water solution. It’s really good for allergies, sinus conditions, and overall health.
- Oiling my skin: Your skin is the largest organ of the body. Yet we hardly ever take care of it. Once a day or a few times a week, I rub a special Ayurvedic oil on my skin. This nourishes the whole body and calms the nervous system.
- Hydration: I try to drink half my body weight in ounces each day which is approximately 70 ounces or nine 8 oz. glasses of water.
I love this time of year because here in the Berkshires, you have to prepare for the winter. In doing so, it seems that everything gets more organized and up to speed. For instance, I put new snow tires on my car. We brought all the deck furniture into the garage. We have a big stack of wood for our wood stove. We put our lawn mowers to bed (running the tanks dry or adding “Stabil” and removing the battery). We brought in the water hoses and put shovels and scrapers in the cars. Okay, winter. We’re ready for you. Bring it on!
As for my future vision for Ashaya. I plan on taking January and most of February off to write. This is the first time I’ve stopped teaching for this long. In addition, for the last few years, I’ve been audio recording my lectures and Savasanas every time I teach. I now have a library of hundreds of recordings that I plan to edit, organize, and make available in some form to the public. Lastly, I hope to make Ashaya Yoga more accessible online so that students can study with me from the comfort of their own home.
I want to express my gratitude and thanks to Heidi, Ashaya office manager, and Ari, web master and bookkeeper, both who’ve worked hard all year to make Ashaya Yoga available in the world. They are both extraordinary people with big hearts who share a vision of light, love, and service. And thank you to Silver Kim and Sarah Fischer for your savvy social media support this year.
And, finally, none of this would be possible without the support of you, my readers, students, and friends. Your love for me, life, Ashaya Yoga, and this spiritual journey called life, fills me with inspiration every day. Without you, I would not be able to do what I do. This is what I want it to be: our relationship of mutual trust, respect, inspiration, hope for the future, and interest in making this world a better place fills me with gratitude. Like the light of this season, you are precious to me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
May you have a happy and healthy new year!
P.S. Here is a holiday video that I hope you will all enjoy.