The Story of No Story

Yoga teaches us that when we identify with our “story” (an identity or belief that is developed from our individual ego rather than identifying with our true nature) we are suffering, blinded by illusion. I was originally introduced to this idea by Sudakar Ken McRae and the concept allowed me to move beyond the limiting beliefs of my mind that held me hostage for many years. As a result of that I rarely talk about my experience with chronic illness because I do no longer define myself by that story. Yoga practices (Big Y Yoga) allowed me to use connection to the present moment to overcome the limitations I once experienced in body that therefore impacted my mind. However, I am making an exception to revisit my past experiences and share them with you.

II was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC) when I was 16, unfortunately it was a very severe case. After years of suffering from anemia, pain, malnutrition and frequent hospitalizations I was sent to the Mayo Clinic to have the diseased gut removed at age 29. Unfortunately, the surgery resulted in a confounding number of other complications including obstruction, infection, and poor motility resulting in frequent hospitalizations for about 8 more years. My life at that time was one of severe pain and was limited by this severe illness.
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Deep Stretch

All Levels

This experiential class utilizes asanas (postures), several meditation practices and pranayama (breathing techniques) to slowly open the body and direct awareness inward. A quiet, slow-paced class ideal for all levels of students, Deep Stretch emphasizes holding postures longer so the muscles can relax, leading to deeper states of clarity and freedom of movement. The class assumes no prior knowledge, experience or specific level of flexibility or strength and is open to all interested in exploring the deeper practices of yoga. In this class all or most postures are done on the floor.

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What is Meditative Yoga?

Pranayama, chanting, and meditation are always my favorite part of a yoga class, yet these are the practices that are usually given the least amount of time or skipped entirely. My Meditative Yoga class grew out of my desire to share these practices which have benefited me the most.

As an acupuncturist, I have noticed that many of my patients would benefit from more skillfulness in ways to do less and relax more. Depletion of the physical, mental, and emotional energy can be addressed by learning how to relax fully at each of these levels. Learning how to slow down, let go, and discover the wealth of ease and vitality that arises from simply being present is the goal of this class.

We begin each class with a body scan to get us grounded in our bodies and out of the mental busyness of the day. Simple pranayama (breath work) and mudras to open the lungs precede our practice of chanting. I bring my harmonium and lead the class in a very simple Sanskrit chant for about 10 minutes to experience the vibration of the sounds of the chant and feel the warming of the body from the deep breathing that happens when we chant, followed with time to notice the building of the subtle energy (prana) that is strengthened by both pranayama and chanting. Read More »

What Would Franz Do?

I was “hooked” from my very first yoga class in the Fall of 1974 and since then, through practice, teaching and study, my understanding of yoga has deepened many-fold times. Now, after teaching for 30+ years, with over 70,000 attendances in my classes, it is time to move on and create space for other teachers to follow. I have thought about this for many months now and every time, the message from my body is the same… it is now time to hand over my last yoga class, Saturday’s “Capturing the Spirit of Yoga”.

Interestingly, last Saturday, my class was titled “What would Franz do?”

The dharma talk started over 6000 years ago with the birth of Krishna in Mathura, India (a place I have ventured to) and weaved its way to Franz, the manager of the retreat center in Tuscany that I visited over 20 times as part of Global Yoga Journeys. In contrast to Switzerland, in Italy, excursions rarely worked out according to plans and Franz exhibited, the flexibility, the letting-go of the plan, the being-in-the-moment, the ceasing of the moment and rescuing it from disappointment. Letting-go of the plan is like letting-go of the grip-of-thought, a message clearly advocated by Krishna in his pranksterish way. Years ago, my Tuscan guests would soon say, when confronted with a choice, “What would Franz do?” and we would all laugh.

Lately I have been asking myself “What would Franz do?” and it is clear.

I am grateful for the many students here in Columbia that chose to come to my classes over the past 16 years, for those who ventured with me on my many yoga retreats to exotic international locations, for the opportunity to create the awesome Sunrise 21 Day Yoga Adventure and for the support of the teachers at alleyCat.

I still have a whole lot more to offer as a teacher but I will spend the next segment of my time diving deeper into personal study of the mystery of yoga as well as a few other interests that have caught my imagination. Should I feel compelled to share we will let you know.

Until then, remember, do your version of the pose, draw your attention present and breathe.

Jai Bhagwan (I bow to the light within you),
Ken Sudhakar McRae

Resistance is Futile

There are three things I know about myself; I hate change, I resist change and my “story” is that change is not my friend. Simultaneously there are two things I know about the Universe; everything changes and resistance is futile.

Last week was a whopper, a butt kicker, a doosie (insert your favorite phrase here). In the midst of said week things were coming at me from all directions. My survival method kicked in, I put my head down and plowed through. Finally, on Thursday morning space opened up in my schedule and I had a moment to hit pause.  The feel of the sun on my skin and the sound of the wind chimes on the porch softened the gripping on my body and in my mind. Sitting in quiet reflection I was able to step back and become aware of why I felt so shut down mentally and emotionally. During this pause I became aware that my friend resistance was sitting next to me.
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