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The Stillness In The Chaos

Does life ever feel a little crazy, like you want to just put up your hand and ask kindly if the world could simply pause for a moment while you catch your breath? I feel like this often. 

 

With all the constant change and movement in life, it’s easy to get thrown off center. However, with the right kind of awareness, any turbulence of life, can actually point us to absolute centeredness. This paradox of finding the stillness within the movement is depicted in the immortal statue of the Shiva Nataraj or the Dancing Shiva, a Hindu statue that illustrates how the constant motion of the universe has the power to center us as well as transport us into the current of our own personal and spiritual evolution. 

 

In this statue, Shiva is depicted with a serene facial expression, that of a slight smile. Shiva is waving several arms (every feel YOU could use a few extra arms?), posing beautifully and expressly as if the sculptor captured this figure mid-dance. 

Shiva Nataraj

 

Shiva and Shakti: Their Both/And Nature

 

In this statue, Shiva’s gender is obscured. The figure in the statue is depicted with female hips, a slight bosom, and of course depicted in the gesture of dancing. In ancient Vedic wisdom, the male god Shiva represents pure and absolute consciousness, the underlying beinginess of all things while the female god Shakti is the dancer who, through her movement, creates all the change, form, and energy of the universe. It’s the marriage of Shiva’s consciousness and Shakit’s motion that results in the birth of everything in the Universe. Truly, we are the expression of the marriage of consciousness and form, a radically expansive expression of their both/and union. Therefore, I feel that the Shiva Nataraj statue doesn’t represent only Shiva, but rather the realized both/and nature of a merged Shiva/Shakti, consciousness aroused by form. For that reason, for the rest of this article, I think it’s fair to reference this representation of blended genders and purposes with the pronoun, “their.” 

 

The 5 Acts of Shiva/Shakti

 

This Shiva/Shakti image transmutes language, time, and the chaos of the universe into pure presence and depicts at least 5 steps which both help me to appreciate the ceaseless and sometimes seemingly chaotic motion of life while also pointing me to my own greater spiritual advancement.

 

Looking at this statue, in their upper right hand, Shiva/Shakti is holding a drum which symbolizes beating a life, pulse, and rhythm into all things in the Universe, a generative gesture which speaks to the season of spring when things are born. Modern physics attests to this universality of movement, that everything from the smallest particle to the largest galaxy— even the Universe itself—is in some form of vibration, frequency, and change. This change includes light, sound, color, and even thought. As a fellow musician, I love the idea of Shiva/Shakti creating a drumbeat for the tribe of all things as we dance around the central fire of one radiant Source. 

 

Abhaya MudraShiva/Shakti’s second hand on the right side is holding the abhaya mudra, an open-palmed gesture, one that suggests a generous holding or sustaining of what was born. If their first hand on the right side represents spring, then this hand certainly represents summertime, the season when things are growing well, life is easy, and everything seems peachy.  This gesture gives us hope and can promote gratitude for the many things that are going well in our lives. 

 

But don’t get too comfortable with things as they are because in their first hand on the left, they are holding a flame, suggesting that as easily as they can birth and sustain something, they can and will burn it to a crisp. I think of this act of dissolution as the autumnal cycle, like the eruption of fall leaves, bursting into the flames of color. There is no spirit of malevolence in this killing. In fact, the serene look on Shiva/Shakti’s face suggests that even the process of dying is all part of what makes life so good. It can even be regarded as a great act of compassion toward us, like when an old situation needs to die so that we can move on to the next great adventure. 

 

Of course, after the fire, when we are in our darkest place, frozen in the winter of our pain, our inclination may be to importune the heart of the deity and supplicate for restoration. Shiva/Shakti, however, shows us that they have other plans. Instead of opening their heart to us and restoring us to the way things were, Shiva/Shakti’s other left hand is actually concealing their heart, almost as if to add insult to injury, saying, “Nah. The entrance into the heart of God doesn’t come that easy, kid.” 

 

Shiva/Shakti’s right leg is standing on a small, impish creature, something that either looks like a baby or sometimes a pig or demon. More than once, an inquisitive and well-meaning yoga student has asked me, pointing to the statue, “Um … why is that person standing on a baby?” This thing that looks like a baby is called the Apasmara, and represents the unrealized, ignorant, or less-developed version of ourselves. When we’ve been conquered, humbled, and suffered the coup de grace, Shiva/Shakti goes one step further and stands on our corpse. Yet this gesture is actually one of great benevolence. This is because Shiva/Shakti is literally taking a stand for our highest good by putting asunder the old version of ourselves. It’s like Shiva/Shakti is giving the old version of ourselves the honorary funeral rites and burial. Often, true transformation, indeed apotheosis, can only come after such a dark night of the soul as suggested by this statue. Transformation requires death and resurrection.

 

Finally, while Shiva/Shakti is doing their honorary tap dance on our ignorant selves, with the only limb that Shiva/Shakti has left, they lift their left leg upward in an invitational gesture to rejoin a brand new cycle of rebirth, sustaining, dissolution, concealment, and revelation, and thus it continues for infinity. Surely, this eternal cycle symbolized in this statue represents a circular notion of time as well as the fact that our personal and spiritual evolution is also not linear but rather circular, each turn around the cycle lifting us in an upward spiral, ever higher along our pathway to personal and spiritual evolution.

 

Join The Dance

 

In the statue, the Shiva/Shakti personage is wreathed in flames, suggesting the intense refinement and of our evolution. Yet, despite this intensity, even despite the fact that their hair is on fire, Shiva/Shakti comports an unwavering expression of stillness, serenity, and even joy. This statue shows us that in the eye of the storm of all this change rests an unperturbed stillness, a presence and Awareness which is the foundation upon which the dance of everything can occur. 

 

So, as we experience seasons of transformation, we must remember that all of the motion of our lives can point us to a simple lesson: to be present and to join the dance of personal growth. All this change points to the often disguised but undeniable truth that there is only here, that there is only now. 

 

I invite you to take a moment of contemplation and consider the different cycles you may be experiencing at this moment — your stage of life, relationships, or career, to name a few — and acknowledge which part of that cycle you’re on at this moment. Then, consider all the ways that the moment you’re experiencing at this moment might invite you into stillness as you are growing into your next and higher version of yourself and becoming the person who you are destined to become. 

 

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US. He’s taught classes, trainings and workshops in New York, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and L.A. as well as in Europe and Asia. Scott is the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he loves to write for print and online publications such as Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott is currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah after living in Southern France with his family.




The Power of Intention

The Power of Intention


Several years ago, I had to move. I had been looking for new apartments for a while but I didn’t find anything that made me feel comfortable enough to move. I soon found myself with 5 days left to find a place, sign a lease, and move and I had no real prospects. Needles to say, I began to get a little nervous.

Maybe its because I’m a slow learner but it suddenly dawned on me that maybe I wasn’t finding what I wanted because I didn’t even know what I wanted. So, I took literally 30 seconds and wrote down about 12 things that I really wanted in a place. I didn’t compromise, I didn’t hedge what I wanted. I just laid it out: how much money, how much space, where, architecture type and era. Everything. Why not?

The very next day, I looked at one more apartment. It would be inaccurate to say that I found an apartment close to what I was looking for because as I went down the list this apartment checked every single box of what I was looking for; every one, down to the neighborhood, price, and even charm factor. Oh, and it had to be clean.

I was certainly pleased but not terribly surprised. Things like this have happened to me before. One dear friend says that if I really wanted a taco (perfectly Random), all I have to do is intend it and watch as my cosmic taco appears from the sky. Now I’m not so naive as to think that I get whatever I want from life, I have my share of disappointments, but I do see the effect of regularly setting intention manifest itself over and over in life.

 

Meditation for Manifesting

Image source: Pixabay

Meditation is simply a concentrated form of setting intention and attracting what you want. It’s better to concentrate on what you want rather than worry about what you don’t want. Energy follows thought. So sitting down, closing your eyes and getting very clear with what you want is a great way to set that intention into being. It’s almost like the Universe is waiting on the other end of the cosmic drive through ready to take your order as soon as you make up your damn mind. Go ahead and place your order.

What We Feel We Deserve

In yoga we call this Sankalpa. It is the practice of setting an intention like planting a seed or finding a star by which to navigate your ship through this existence. This Sankalpa is one of the ways by which, I believe, we have commerce and conversation with the world that is bigger than ourselves. Often, we don’t feel we deserve to have what we want but in a Universe that is radiant, abundant, and complex, you don’t deserve NOT to thrive in every way.

Try it out. Plant your seed of intention. Choose your star. Then devote your yoga practice and your practice of everyday living to this intention and keep your faculties of attention acute.

And watch out for falling tacos!

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US. He’s taught classes, trainings and workshops in New York, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and L.A. as well as in Europe and Asia. Scott is the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he loves to write for print and online publications such as Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott is currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah after living in Southern France with his family.




My Dog Thinks I’m Perfect

There is a fantastic bumper sticker that says something to the effect of, ” May I be the type of person that my dog thinks I am.”

For those of us who own dogs— and it seems everyone owns a dog— it clear that dogs know us better than we know ourselves. Our dog worships the ground we walk on, even though, ironically, we are the ones who pick up their poop—go figure. Back to dogs’ undying love for us . . . yes, in our own mind, sometimes we might feel like most miserable wretch who ever climbed out of the pond, the dumbest thing to ever darken a doorway, but at the end of the day, when we come home to sit on the porch and revel in our misery, there greeting us is our best four-legged friend, prancing with joy to see us,  with nothing but profound love and worship for us.

Maybe that’s because dogs can see something about us that we can’t see in ourselves. The same way that a dog’s sense of smell is dramatically more sophisticated than our own, perhaps similarly K-9s also have the ability to sniff out the best parts of us, and not just our crotch. Dogs remind us that we, too, are lovable and amazing creatures.

Perhaps this is why in yoga class we spend so much time in downward and facing and upward facing dog so that we can begin emulating the that part of us that can recognize our inner awesomeness, just like our dog can. In part, yoga is finding focus, strengthening, and removing the physical obstacles of an unhealthy body. Yoga is also cultivating a relationship with both the numinous parts of ourselves as well as those ethereal parts of the world around us. Yoga carves away the crap that blinds us from that lovable person that our dog sees all the time. If our dog can see it all the time, then why can’t we? Maybe it’s because we forget. Maybe because we let stupid stuff blind us from seeing it. Maybe it’s because we don’t spend enough time in downward facing or upward facing dog.

I invite you to practice seeing yourself the way your dog sees you. Perhaps it is as easy as spending a little more time in downward facing dog, if for nothing else to connect to body, mind, and spirit to hone your listening and reveal the eternally perfect person that always exists. Chances are that you’ll start noticing this same awesomeness in everyone else near you, including your dog.

Namaste

 

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US. He’s taught classes, trainings and workshops in New York, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and L.A. as well as in Europe and Asia. Scott is the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he loves to write for print and online publications such as Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott is currently living in Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.




The Grace Of A Student

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.”

Shunryu Suzuki

Photo: Oleksandr Pyrohov

What Kind of Cup Are You?

There is an old zen story which asks, what kind of a cup are you? Are you a cup that is too full, not able to receive any more?  Is your cup turned over refusing to do it any other way but your own?  Or is you cup turned up, empty and ready to receive what the master has to offer?

When I lived in Korea, I often attended meditation retreats in the mountains with a dear friend Jin-Soon. Jin-Soon was a devout Buddhist and suggested that we go on a light hike up the mountain to her favorite temple. About two hours from our city was  Geryangson mountain which housed several Buddhist temple.

It was late Autumn. We hiked, swimming in the warmth and light of the sun, especially after the biting cold of the morning. Eventually, We came to a small temple and quietly, we took off our shoes and stepped inside. Already sitting inside the temple were 2 female monks, both with shaved heads, sitting on mats deep in meditation. I wondered how long they had been there or planned to be there. They looked as though they may as well have been permanent fixtures in the temple. It felt so peaceful and quiet inside that little meditation temple.

Jin-Soon gathered mats for us placed near the door and we sat down and began our own meditation. The sun shone through the window of the door in a perfect rectangle that surrounded my body like a picture frame. I was warm and quiet. I don’t know how much time we spent there. Time just dissolved.

 

Honoring Angels

Somewhere in the middle of my meditation, I began thinking about Ryan, a friend of my sister whom I had met on several occasions, who had died earlier that year along with his sister. It was a tragic event and even though I didn’t know Ryan very well, and his sister not at all, I still felt a deep grief in their passing. I had made a promise to my sister to light a candle for them the next time I visited a Buddhist a temple. I had lit a candle several times for lost loved ones in cathedrals but I wasn’t sure that such a ritual was even done in Buddhist temples.

Once we had finished our meditation, I asked Jin-Soon about whether or not people honored the dead in this fashion at a Buddhist temple and if so, how I might go about getting candles lit for Ryan and his sister. She kindly walked me to a small kiosk not far away and helped me buy two 14-inch candles. With candles in hand, I walked to the main temple, a large, imposing edifice, took off my shoes, and reverently entered the door.

The Rite of a Student

Just inside the door was an old monk whose face was very wrinkled, the evidence of a lifetime of smiles. He saw the candles in my hand and I motioned that I wished to place them on the alter. He beckoned me to follow his lead and walking to the center shrine, three gigantic golden buddhas each 15–20 feet high, sitting performed a dramatic bow, he performed a rather elaborate bow, lowering himself to the floor then standing up again with his hands together in a prayer motion. I followed him the best I could, not quite remembering every step of the bow.  Then, together, walked together to the alter and placed the candles gently on the alter. I retreated slowly backward and made motions to leave. My monk, however, had more to teach me.

He held up seven fingers and gestured to me that it was now necessary to complete seven more bows. Again, he repeated his dramatic motions and bade me to follow his precise movements to complete the ritual. In that moment, I had suddenly become his student. After many frustrating attempts, I finally learned the sequence: Standing with legs together, hands in a prayer stance, kneel down to the floor without using your hands. Cross the left foot over the right. Then, placing the palms on the floor, bend forward to touch the forehead to the floor. The butt must come down and touch your ankles in this position which was clearly easier for the the old monk than it was for me because my teacher couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t perform that part and corrected me repeatedly on this point. With the forehead on the ground, turn the palms up lifting the hands off the ground a few inches. Replace the hands on the ground, palms down, uncross your feet, and press yourself up to a squatting position. Then stand up, feet together. Finally, with hand pressed together in a prayer, make a deep bow toward the Buddha. With my every attempt at a bow, my monk hovered over me and corrected me (sometimes rather forcefully) where I forgot. When I completed my offering, my monk gave me a gentle bow and an enormous smile. I reciprocated in bowing and smiling my deep thanks to him.

 

The Grace of a Student

Despite my awkward offerings, I’m nonetheless convinced that Ryan and his sister were somehow sitting as angels in the rafters, happily laughing at my tutelage and grateful for my gesture. I’m sure of it.

According to you, what are the qualities of a good student? For me, principal among the qualities of a good student is grace, the grace of allowing yourself to be taught, to have an open cup.

As a life-long yoga teacher and practitioner, I will always consider myself first and foremost a student of yoga. Even as I am teaching, I am learning in the process. It’s a beautiful paradox, learning while teaching. Whether by formal teaching of a master or from the masters degree from Knocks University (the school of hard knocks) if your eyes are open and heart humbled, there is always something to learn.

With the beginner’s mind, there is always now. There is always wonder. There are always possibilities.

I invite you to embrace the beginner’s mind in all of your practices, passions, and in the study of life.

 

Scott Moore Yoga (Photo by Alex Adams)

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US. He’s taught classes, trainings and workshops in New York, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and L.A. as well as in Europe and Asia. Scott is the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he loves to write for print and online publications such as Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott is currently living in Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.




Motion Dancing With Spirit

Balance

In non-duelist thought, specifically Tantra, everything is considered to have an equal counterpart that ultimately balances the universe into one balanced whole. The symbol of yin and yang is a perfect example of this: each side is not only balanced by the opposite of the other, but more importantly, the essence of one is located in the heart of the other represented by the black circle in the white space, and the white circle in the black space.

Shakti: The Cosmic Dancer

In Tantric thought, Shiva represents the masculine energy of light, spirit,  and consciousness. His perfect partner in the co-creation of the Universe is Shakti, the female energy that is creative, dynamic, and material. According to this model, the masculine energy is contemplative and spiritual and the female energy is determined to do something about it, to dance and celebrate that spirit into form. It should be noted that despite our gender we all have energies and traits that are both masculine and feminine. Therefore, Shakti could be described as the spirit producing action. I’m guessing that we’ve all experienced this feeling of Shakti sometime or other when we’ve been inspired to action.

 

Dancing With Consciousness

When we express our Shakti energy, we feel powerful and creative, we breathe and we move. This feeling of Shakti energy is very empowering. Whereas thinking or worrying about something is pretty static, it is Shakti energy that changes thought or worry into empowering action. Not only worry, though. Shakti tells the Universe that you are serious by putting action to your resolve. Even if the solutions to our worry or fretting don’t come immediately, by starting some sort of movement, we’ve open the Shakti energy, a channel whereby change and metamorphoses is inevitable. Sometimes it takes physical motion, a little re-arranging of the furniture, to realize the bigger changes that you’d like to see. Besides, movement feels good and is fun! Fun is exactly this: motion on spirit.

Sometimes, the physical manifestation of this female energy is called Kundalini, a force which is said to be housed in the base of the spine and will travel in a serpentine fashion up the Nadis, the principle energy veins, along the direction of the spine, once awoken through the practice of yoga.

Try familiarizing yourself with this feeling of Shakti, or Kundalini. My favorite mode to become familiar with this is by first drawing in through breathwork and meditation to identify spirit and circulate energy. Then do some asana, or yoga poses, to further illuminate that energy and distribute it through your entire system.  It’s as easy as being conscious of your breath while moving your body. A simple yet profound practice.

One you practice in this way, you may begin to notice how you can apply action to spirit in all aspects of your life.

 

Scott Moore Yoga (Photo by Alex Adams)

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US. He’s taught classes, trainings and workshops in New York, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and L.A. as well as in Europe and Asia. Scott is the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he loves to write for print and online publications such as Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott is currently living in Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.




Balance Leads To Thriving

I’m always talking about the balance between effort and ease in a yoga class. Understanding the balance between over and under exerting yourself is the secret to going the distance in your yoga asana. Likewise, it’s a lesson that we can apply to our every-day life.

Finding The Balance

When exerting or stretching, I always encourage students to do so at a level 7 of 10, or less. I invite them to find that place I qualify as “comfortably intense.” It’s counterintuitive but doing so will help them arrive much quicker, effectively, and safely to where they are attempting to arrive than just trying to effort their way to get there.

In a society that values productivity over almost anything else we confound doing more with getting more. Such is not always the case in practices like yoga. What’s really happening behind the scenes is that we are working  just enough but not too much in order to place ourselves into the current of Prana, or life-force energy, that will take us much further down the path of where we are trying to go than forcing the path our way there.

Getting Into The Flow

Prana is a river of energy that is flowing within us and around us. Think of it like an actual river with the current traveling fastest in the center of the river and moving languidly on either bank of the river. One bank of the river represents effort and the other represents ease. If your goal is to move down-river and your efforts to swim only move you horizontally across the river, that is to say either toward one bank or the other, your job therefore is to swim just hard enough to get into the current but not so hard that you swim past the strongest part. When you find the balance between effort and ease, you’ll find it relatively easy to stay into the current of energy and you’ll find yourself quite literally in a flow state.

This principle is applied on a physical level in our yoga asana classes but can also be applied to other parts of our lives, in body mind and spirit.  In our meditation practice, we can suffer from either too much or too little effort. In our spiritual practices we can suffer from too much or not enough effort.

Ganesha: Celebrating Balance

Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, is a great reminder for this balance. His entire being is one of non-duality as he is half animal and half human, one long tusk and one short tusk, a large fellow who rides around on a tiny mouse. Often depicted in a Ganesha statue is a plate of cookies he is carrying with him. His ample belly shows that he’s not a stranger to his plate of goodies. What he is saying by this is that no matter how serious you are about your practices in body, mind, and spirit, it’s important that you always find enjoyment in them. Feed your soul in the process and allow your soul to get fat.

 

Stretching Into Greatness

Tantra is a school of thought that focuses on our growth. In fact, Tantra means to stretch into your greatest being as effectively as possible. I know what you might be thinking. Often, the word Tantra conjures of esoteric  ” coupled yoga poses” that are reserved for the bedroom, or for some of you, any room in the house, as long as the kids aren’t home. And while finding balance in your love life is a part of Tantra, the school of thought is much richer than just that. Tantra is to move beyond the realm of the ordinary to understand and embrace your full potential, in every area of your life, a potential which is probably much vaster than you think. The driver for Tantra, that is to say the way that we can optimize every part of our life, is Prana. Getting into the flow of Prana is the secret gateway to make every aspect of our lives (even “esoteric coupled yoga poses”) thrive. Again the two things that most often prevent us from getting into that flow of Prana is either under effort or over effort.

 

The Big Reveal: 7=11

Here’s the big reveal: by operating at a level 7 or less of effort in our lives, we find that our lives thrive at a level 11! Get more by finding the balance between effort and ease.

This week, I encourage you live your life at a level 11 by exploring all the ways in which you might be able to find greater balance, including your job, play, exercise, your diet, your relationships. . . EVERYTHING. Let go of the doing more to get more attitude and instead try finding balance to get into the flow. In the flow, there’s no limits to where you might arrive.

 

 

 

Scott Moore Yoga (Photo by Alex Adams)

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US. He’s taught classes, trainings and workshops in New York, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and L.A. as well as in Europe and Asia. Scott is the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit.

When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he loves to write for print and online publications such as Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott is currently living in Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.




Quiet The Mind

The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali is a collection of Sanskrit verses, compiled sometime between 500 BCE and 400 CE and directs someone toward how they might achieve the ultimate state of yoga called Samadhi, or Oneness with all things. The Yoga Sutras can get pretty esoteric but they start off quite straight forward by explaining very succinctly what yoga is.  It says in the second verse, “Yoga chitta vrtti nirodhah,” meaning Yoga is the cessation of fluctuations of the mind.Yoga Sutra 1:2. In other words, by learning to calm the turbulence of the mind, you enter into the state of Samadhi.

Yoga: More Than Poses

Often times when we think of yoga, we think of asana, or yoga postures. However, the postures are simply another tool to help practice achieving the real purpose for yoga which is to calm the mind and gain Awareness. Certainly, there are many benefits to an asana practice including health, reduction of stress, sleeping better, etc., but it should be stated that these are the fantastic byproducts of calming the mind. Whether by practicing asana, meditation, or pranayama (breath work), we are truly practicing calming the fluctuations of the mind to enter into the space of clear seeing and Awareness.

Nowhere in the Yoga Sutras does it mention that a practitioner can only achieve this state of calming the mind while on a yoga mat, in the studio, or doing yoga poses. Therefore, anything that helps us to practice find focus, develop Awareness, and concentration could be considered a yoga practice. We can apply this notion of focus and concentration for any kind of work we might do and any work we might do could prepare us to arrive at Samadhi. You can see a person who enters into that state of Oneness when they lose themselves in a performance, dance, or any other work that transcends a person.

The Yoga of Good Work

 

Getting quiet and drawing in to stillness is necessary for any good work to happen. It’s this quietness, this stillness, that allows the busy waters of our mind and emotions to settle enough for us to see what’s down in the depths our being.

When we can enter this state of Oneness, even momentarily, our work becomes effortless because we are no longer attempting to do the thing, we become the thing. Work on this level, be that our job, parenting, our passions or whatever,  generates from this deep relationship with our true being. Our work, therefore is simply an extension of our deeper selves, the Self that knows everything.

Our work, our medium is, as one good friend says, the loudspeaker of the soul.

Here are a few simple practice that you might try before any work, be that yoga practice, contract law, or parenting, to practice calming the waters of the mind.

 

Mind-Calming Practices

There Is Practice
Simply sit, close your eyes, and acknowledge what you sense, all of your senses. Without value or judgment, simply state what you are experiencing. Rather than identifying with the pronoun “I” simply say in your mind, “There is the sound of traffic, there is fatigue, there is worry, there is an incredible urge to rush to Hatch Family Chocolates and eat 40 pounds of truffles.” You know, whatever thought, emotion, sensation occurs. Simply state what is. Try not to identify with it. Just watch it.

Count Your Breaths
Choose a number and count your exhales down from that number to zero. When you loose your place start back at that number. If you get to zero, start back at that or a different number. Keep you mind only on your breath. This is a deceptively difficult practice, I feel.

Mantra
Mantra means to transcend through the use of your mind. Simply find a phrase that means something to you, a scripture, a poem, some tidbit of inspiration, and repeat it in your mind. Words are powerful. You are your word.

 

I invite you to practice stilling the waters of your mind before doing any work to see how it leads to you fulfill your purpose of becoming one with all things.

Scott Moore Yoga (Photo by Alex Adams)

 

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US. He’s taught classes, trainings and workshops in New York, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and L.A. as well as in Europe and Asia. Scott is the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he loves to write for print and online publications such as Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott is currently living in Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.

 




Running In The Light of the Dark

Running Into The Unknown

Years ago, some friends and I were spending an afternoon in the paradoxical desert of the Great Salt Lake. The texture of the sand, crusted with salt, weather, and time is a sensational feast for bare feet. The landscape is very flat and is so flat that it’s become a famous destination for racing the fastest cars in the world.

We decided to play a game. In this extremely barren, extremely flat land, we decided to close our eyes and run completely blind and at full speed in any direction for exactly 100 paces. Eager for the adventure, we closed our eyes and shouted, “GO!”

I bolted into the darkness of the afternoon sun. With my eyes closed, my other senses came alive. I could smell the mud, the salt, the sulfur, the decaying brine. I felt the texture of crusty-soft sand beneath my bare feet as they beat across the surface of the desert. I could hear the sounds of my companions, their feet slapping the sand, laughing and panting, dwindling into the distance.

Then a worry entered into my head, “Hadn’t I seen some ominous-looking spikes sticking out of the sand? I would really prefer not to impale my foot on one of those.” Regardless of my worries, I tightened my closed eyes, quickened my pace, and began to laugh, wild with wonder and worry. ” . . .53, 54, 55 . . . .” My paces were whizzing by but the thought of me stepping blindly onto dangerous had almost now lathered me up into a full-blown panic. “. . .71,72,73 . . .” I could no longer hear my fellow runners and wondered if I’d veered wildly off-course. ” . . . 83,84,85 . . .”

Only fifteen paces to go. I desperately wanted to stop and open my eyes. Instead, I let out all the stops, opened my running to as fast as I could, and sprinted madly in any direction, no direction, the only direction—forward. From deep in my gut came a raw and uncontrolled scream of anticipation and fear and fun, “98, 99, 100!” at which point I dug my feet into the sand and did an immediate halt.

As I stood there panting, I slowly opened up my eyes and looked down at my feet, muddy but unspoiled, unharmed. These feet who willingly leapt me through space as I ran through the darkness toward fear, away from fear. After a moment, I looked up and around for any spikes. None. Nothing for miles. What a rush!

Learning to See

An important concept as explained in the Yoga Sutras explores the relationship between perceptions and actions. If our perceptions are incorrect, we’ll often find ourselves in difficulty or fear. If we know what creates such problems, it is easier to avoid them. If I knew for sure that there were no obstacles in my path, I’d have had an easy run. These misperceptions are called Avidya. Interestingly, one of the most common misperceptions is called Dvesa, the action of rejecting things because of fear. We have a difficult experience and are afraid of repeating it so we project the effects of the past to try to illuminate the future and end up making our present moment unpleasant. Unfortunately, the effects of Dvesa tend to make us reject things that are unfamiliar, even if we have no history with them.


Until we are enlightened, it is impossible to avoid all fears, and therefore we have a model to face those that remain with a sense of adventure. I’ve referenced a few times one of my favorite movies, Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders If you haven’t seen it, find it and watch it tonight, but bring a glass of milk to wash it down-it’s rich. In this film, an angel, Damiel, decides he’d prefer to live one life, fully human, sentient, and alive, than an eternity of the colorless, only observational life of an angel. The once-mortal, Damiel happens upon another mortal who was once an angel (who, interestingly, is Peter Falk playing himself). The whole movie is a great affirmation of life but the the part I want to highlight today is when the once-angel Damiel pleas to the once-angel Peter Falk to tell him everything there is to know about being human. Whereupon Peter Falk turns to Damiel and playfully shouts, “You have to figure it out for yourself. That’s the fun of it!”  You’ve got to shut your eyes and run full out and experience what you are going to experience. Since we can’t avoid all fears, to the extent that it is possible, we must somehow learn to see the beauty and adventure in them.

Even in our fears and failings there is amazement and beauty. Poet David Ignetow says, “I wish I knew the beauty of leaves falling. To whom are we beautiful as we go?” He says that even in our failing, there is a part of the Universe that finds us astonishing in that going. In yoga, we explore the relationship between what is personal and what is universal-the universe inside. Therefore, there is a corner of your heart that can grant a magnificence to the most difficult of circumstances.

Through yoga and mindfulness, we learn and experience more about our True Self, Home, who’s opposite is fear and worry. With the remembrance of our True Self, we are less and less persuaded by Dvesa’s misperception of fear. Against the backdrop of the magnificence our True Self, even in the smallest understanding of it, many of our fears simply dissolve. And from this courageous place, we face what fears remain with presence and boldness. We run into the darkness screaming, laughing, and fully alive.

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

–Wendell Berry.

 

 

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US. He’s taught classes, trainings and workshops in New York, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and L.A. as well as in Europe and Asia. Scott is the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he loves to write for print and online publications such as Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott is currently living in Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.

 




Refreshingly Simple

When something isn’t working in life, if you feel stuck with some sort of quandary, often the best remedy is radical simplification. Simplify to the point where our body, mind, and spirit can digest easily and clearly the task at hand. Simplification means choosing to release the unessential. Simplification means finding what for you is most essential, what makes you feel the most alive, then organizing your life to place your energy there. It means choosing what is superfluous and letting it go.

If life is feeling a little overwhelming, one effective mode of radical simplification is to connect back to our bodies through the grounding practice of yoga. In yoga things boil down to inhale and exhale, expansion and contraction, tension and release. And from that simple, most basic place, our awareness opens up and we see clearly from the vantage point of our True Self, that deceptively simple place of being. You don’t need to do a 90-minute yoga practice to have an effective practice. Try doing a few poses you like. Remember to stay connected to deep breathing the entire time.

Simple Poses

Here are a few of my favorite poses to help connect me to my body and practicing simplifying.

Cobra or Upward Facing Dog

This is one of the poses I love the best. It opens the chest, stretches the neck, and strengthens the arms. It also stretches the belly and engages the muscles of back and glutes. Go easy if you have a weak low-back. Even bringing your chest a few inches off the ground is a great pose.

 

 

 

Triangle

This pose stretches the long muscles of the hamstrings and calves, not to mention opens the chest and stretches the muscles in the back. This is one of my all-time favorite poses. Hint: if raising your arm messes with your shoulder, you can keep your top arm on your hip. Like in every pose, watch for tension in your low-back.

 

Fig. 4 Stretch

This pose deserves a spot in the yoga hall of fame. It will shave years off of your life by releasing tension in your hips which in turn releases tension in your back. I love this pose because you can do it lying down and with your back flat against the floor. Remember to keep you toes flexed toward your shins, especially on the leg that is crossed over your other thigh, the one that is in the fig. 4. This helps to protect your knee ligaments and joint.

While simplifying life by practicing just a few yoga poses, one of the ways we enjoy simplicity is by focusing on our breath. Breath is such a simple yet essential part of our practice. It is one of the secrets to find our True Self through the union of body, mind and spirit. As we focus on our breath and the simple practice of connecting to our body, my hope is that we end up feeling freedom and clarity as well as a deeper understanding of what is essential in our lives.

Outside of yoga, may I also invite your to consider ways in which you could simplify your life. Try sitting in meditation for 10 minutes every day this week and contemplate how to simplify life.

Best of luck!

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US. He’s taught classes, trainings and workshops in New York, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and L.A. as well as in Europe and Asia. Scott is the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he loves to write for print and online publications such as Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott is currently living in Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.




Investing In the Human Economy

Unfortunately, hard financial times often makes us feel like we need to circle the wagons, draw in our resources, and look out for our own interests. The scarcity of financial means sometimes leads to scarcity of good will toward each other. But even with tough times financially, there are perhaps more resources than you can imagine all around you. 

A Richer Resource

But despite the fact that many of us are suffering a bit financially because of COVID-19, the loss of jobs, plans put on pause, etc, there is another form of abundance we can all cash in and rely upon. This abundant resource is each other. Us. You and me. Even with social distancing, instead of shielding ourselves from others, we can enrich ourselves and others during this tricky financial time by investing our sincere humanity, our love, compassion, trust, and laughter. We can invest in the coffers of the well-being and happiness of each other. We are each other’s bail-out plan and support in the essential economics of human capital. We are a resource without a deficit and yes, one that is even more vital than dollars. We are each other’s interest and one that will receive an immediate return on investment each time we share a little of love and care from our endless account of humanity. This is yoga’s (read union) true meaning, the one-ness of all.

The Opportunity of Tough Times

Tough financial times actually affords us an opportunity, the opportunity to draw together and build friendships and communities because sometimes that is all that is left. Community is what’s essential. Community will get us through. Ask your grandparents who may have lived through the Great Depression. We can help each other out in myriad ways, even with the pandemic prevalent and vaccines still scarce.

Here are a few ways we might still be able to help each other out despite financially tough times. 

  • Be on the lookout for job opportunities you are aware of and let your neighbors  and community know through message boards and social media.
  • Go through your unused stuff and both simplify your life by getting rid of anything you’re not using and offer it to those in your community who might need it. Take a look at the incredible work being done by my friend Courtney Carver and her book, Soulful Simplicity for excellent ways to be so much more by owning so much less.
  • Do an online yoga or meditation practice. Your energy and spirit feeds each other.
  • Be creative! Invent new ways to connect with family, friends, and neighbors. 
  • Use your talents! Do you knit, play music, or write? Find a way to share this in a safe way with your community. The world needs more of what only YOU can offer.
  • Be generous. There’s a law of reciprocity in the Universe. Like attracts like. Scarcity mentality creates scarcity. Abundant mentality creates abundance. Try tipping more. Look for ways to support your local artists. Make a monthly donation to those causes that really need your support. Then watch to see the ways that abundance starts to flood back to you.

Tough times move us toward fun creative solutions that we’d otherwise never have discovered. One of the creative solutions I’ve created is a free Tranquilly Tool Kit I’m made available on my website with free resources like stress free meditations, yoga, and breathing practices, as well as links to great music. It’s not surprising that even though I’m giving away more free offerings than ever, I am receiving more than enough for my needs. 

Life Force Energy

Prana is a Sanskrit term meaning life force energy. Prana is what makes every particle of the Universe vibrate and move. We can manipulate our prana by learning yogic breathing called pranayama. With practice, we see that everything around us is also a product of prana, including our relationships, work, and finances. Doing a simple breathing exercise like slow, deep belly breaths will help you to learn to calm your energy, especially during difficult times. It will also give you a commerce with the life force energy that is both within and outside of you. As you learn to master prana, you’ll discover ways to direct the prana that is all about you to find yourself enriching your life in every way imaginable.

Click here for more resources on stress-free meditation, including pranayama techniques to help with stress

 

Even though we may be in tough times financially, practice abundance, resourcefulness, and creativity and see how you become flooded with resources, especially the resource of the human heart.

 

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US. He’s taught classes, trainings and workshops in New York, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and L.A. as well as in Europe and Asia. Scott is the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he loves to write for print and online publications such as Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott is currently living in Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.

 




The Revolutionary Practice of Rest

I’ve been blessed to have many wonderful teachers in my life. One of my most influential  teachers is Judith Lasater. She is a well-respected senior teacher living in the United States, a close student of yoga great B.K.S. Iyengar, and basically invented the concept of Restore Yoga. She was a founder for The California Yoga Teachers Association, the Iyengar Yoga Institute in San Francisco, and Yoga Journal magazine. I love her teachings. One teaching in particular is very pertinent around this time of year. One practice she does every year, something that is completely life-changing, is during the days between Christmas and New Years she practices only one pose. Savasana.

Savasana: A Singular Pose

Savasana, or corpse pose, is the resting pose you experience normally at the end of asana practice, or several times during a Restore Yoga practice. Judith Lasater suggests an entire week of practicing only Savasana. That’s it. 

 

If we think of our entire year like a practice, it seems fitting that at the end of the year, we spend a little time resting, especially after the year we’ve just had. We need a nice, lengthy Savasana … and then maybe a stiff drink (click here for the original recipe of my CORONA Cocktail).

 

May I invite you to consider spending some dedicated time in Savasana for the next several days. Try resting as a practice. If you’re a doer, you might find it very difficult. Just like many medicines, often the medicine that is the most needed is often the hardest to take. 

 

Photo by David Newkirk

Here’s what you do …

 

Close the door and alert your family, room mates, and pets that you’ll be unavailable for a while. Set yourself up on a yoga mat, couch, or bed. You may wish to put a cushion or bolster under your knees, a pillow or blanket under your  head and an eye pillow over your eyes. I’ve discovered that if you don’t have an eye-pillow, a COVID mask doubles nicely as an eye mask. You may also want a blanket on top of you. Set a timer for anywhere from 30–90 minutes, so you’re not worried about time. Then lay down, close your eyes and rest. Don’t worry about any other poses. Just Savasana. Don’t fret about burning off all the cookies that Santa didn’t bother to take with him. Just relax. 

 

The Pull of Busyness

You may spend the first practice simply fighting the urge to get up and go do “something.” Practice instead simply watching this impulse to busy yourself. May I suggest not judging it, just practice noticing it and notice how much of a hold that chronic busyness has on your mind. 

 

 

If you like, as a way of practicing a deeper Savasana, you may download this wonderful, end of the year Yoga Nidra practice (relaxing guided meditation) and let it lead you through past, present, and future as you create what you’d like to see for yourself moving forward into 2021 and beyond. 

 

Best of luck on your restful journey. I guarantee that you’ll learn volumes about yourself.  You’ll deepen in every practice. Perhaps even from your first session, you’ll emerge feeling clear-headed, energized, and rested. 

 

“God REST ye merry gentlemen (and women and non-binary folks, thank ye very much).”

Email me at scott@scottmooreyoga.com and let me know how it goes!

 

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US. He’s taught classes, trainings and workshops in New York, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and L.A. as well as in Europe and Asia. Scott is the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he loves to write for print and online publications such as Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott is currently living in Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.




You Can Change The World

Much of the pain that we are experiencing in the world right is the result of things dying, things like institutionalized racism, bigotry, sexism, and general lack for the environment. Like the immortal “crooning” words of Bob Dylan, “the times, they are a changin’.”  It’s important to remember also that much of the pain of what we are experiencing right now is the birthing pains of what’s coming next. Also, this birth of what’s coming next is calling on YOU to step up and become the person you are destined to become. YOU are responsible to change the world and yes, you do have the power to change the world. As ancient wisdom states, the change you wish to see in the world can only come from within. 

There is moment being born. It’s a global movement of consciousness, both for individuals and institutions. I know, I know, the world seems really broken at times. Actually, there are many things going better than ever in this world. Regardless, we cannot wait for someone else to make things better. We are more capable than we can imagine to make things as they aught to be. This global movement of consciousness is about learning how to set things right by setting yourself right. 

 

But how, I’m only one person. How can I possibly make a global difference?

 

This summer my family was were practicing some extreme social distancing on a secluded river trip with a very small group down the down San Juan River in Southern Utah. As we floated down the river, beers in hand, we spent many long hours  staring up at the incredible landscape of the canyon walls. The patterns of erosion were incredible: enormous, almost perfect squares the size of elephants, and rectangles the size of cargo ship containers. I was struck by the straight lines of these enormous rocks, as if some giant was playing with the canyon walls, carving each perfect shape out, and plopped it into the river. 

 

A woman on our trip was environmental scientist and had a passion for geology. I asked her how these enormous rocks could be shaped so perfectly with what looked like chiseled corners and almost perfect lines. She offered her best SWAG, (scientific-based wild-ass guess) and suggested that perhaps the microscopic, individual particles of the principal mineral in the rock were shaped in squares and rectangles so the larger stones merely reflected the composite of the smallest possible elements. Fascinating!

This SWAG reminds me of  the hermetic saying, “As above, so below,” and vice versa. In other words, the whole is represented in each of its parts. Since the world is the composite of individuals, the best and only way to change the world is from within. You must change yourself, and when you are whole the world becomes whole.

 

There’s a critical mass of those who are waking up to their highest beings. This critical mass, along with the winds of change, has eroded the old and weathered facade and those who are waking up are breaking from the old. We are rolling toward the living waters of a more just, prosperous, and sustainable existence. 

 

We are the epitome of rock and roll. 

“It is increasingly clear,” writes Paneth, “that all global regimes as currently established are inadequate to the monumental tasks ahead and that people’s movements must arise around the world to save the day.” (Photo: aleutie / Fotolia.com)

 

Yes, there’s a movement that is underway and it’s begging you to join. It’s calling to you to wake up from the illusion of being a limited, powerless being and wake up to the unimaginable power that is already inside of you, to fertilize the seed of your birthright and majesty, so you can be a crucial cell in this organism of consciousness that is changing the world. 

 

We cannot wait for someone else to save us. Our purpose is to save ourselves.We must be the change of the world because the solutions to the world’s problems only lie within. Like Alice Walker said, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

We can make this powerful change with simple but effective practices like Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is by far and away one of the most effective and most relaxing ways of changing your state of consciousness, one that helps you uplevel your stage of consciousness and then… yes— change the world.

 

Nidra is a Sanskrit word meaning sleep, and Yoga Nidra is often called “the yoga of sleep” because it is a form of guided meditation that uses relaxation and a system of organized and layered awareness to take you through a journey into a liminal state between waking and dreaming consciousness. It is here, in this liminal state, that you discover that your mind, body, and spirit together contain a pathway that leads to the gates of perfect presence, wholeness, and Oneness.

 

Yoga Nidra is a potent catalyst for massive personal growth, giving you the direct tools and direction to become the person you are destined to become…the greater You who is destined to change the world. 

 

Try this free Yoga Nidra practice to help you wake up to your divine potential.

Namaste.

Photo by David Newkirk

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US. He’s taught classes, trainings and workshops in New York, San francisco, Salt Lake City, and L.A. as well as in Europe and Asia. Scott is the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he loves to write for print and online publications such as Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott is currently living in Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.

 




The Pain of 2020: Planting Something New

The pain we’ve been feeling this year is both a combination of things dying and other things which are being born. With awareness, we can discern the difference and find a healthy pathway forward into a new life.

This has been very challenging. It’s been Covid-19 with more than a million deaths around the globe. It’s bee global financial disruption and disaster. It’s been #Black Lives Matter with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others fueling the fire to send millions to march in the streets. It’s been a bitter and divisive fight between Trump vs. Biden, right vs. left. Let’s not forget the natural disasters ravaging the US with massive hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes. And all of the global disasters have felt like gasoline poured on the fires of our regularly-scheduled personal crises. We have all felt the oppressive pain and pressure of a truly unforgettable year. 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Death and Birth

But as we are getting ready to say adios to 2020, we gotta remember that just like many forest fires, we will grow back stronger after these personal and global disasters. It’s nice to remember that some trees actually need the a wildfire to break open their cones and seed a new generation.

While some of the pain we are feeling this year is the necessary fire we need to seed a brighter future, other pain we’re feeling this year is the pressure of new things now being born.

Waking Up

One of these things that is being born is a global movement of consciousness. We can no longer stand by and watch to see what happens for our future. There is a reckoning happening. and the world is calling on you to join this movement, to wake up to your potential, to step up your Awareness or to step out of the way. The world needs you to seed the future. 

As a world, we are waking up to our potential and purpose, causing many old paradigms and institutions to disintegrate under the strain of this change in global consciousness. Right before our eyes, we are watching armies demobilize, countries working together more than ever before, and institutionalized racism, bigotry, sexism, and disregard for the environment begin to crack and crumble. As a world, we are recognizing those things which are fundamentally opposite of our highest potential, and we are unwilling to accept it anymore. 

But despite the relief in the passing of some old and broken institutions, we are nonetheless in the dying process of old ways of being and we all feel the pain of that revolution. We feel it in the form of collective rage, disgust, and an uneasiness or confusion of what the future will bring. 

Compassionate Death

All this death reminds me of the Hindu goddess, Kali. In representations of her, she looks like she could be the lovechild between Gene Simmons and a pirate. She has wild eyes, a skirt made of severed arms and heads, a threatening sword raised above her head, and blood dripping off her long, serpentine tongue. Yet, Kali is a regarded compassionate deity. That’s right. She’s the one who says, “Enough, already!” and severs what needs to die. In truth, what she represents is killing our unconsciousness, putting asunder our old self so that we can be resurrected as our most conscious beings. Still, blood is blood and even though some things do need to die, this year has shown us that even necessary deaths can still hurt. 

Birthing Pains

While some of the pain we feel this year is from things changing and dying, it’s also true that some of the pain we are experiencing is actually birthing pains. Whether we asked for it or not, we are being born into something new. After the death of what didn’t serve us any longer, it’s normal to feel the pressure of confusion about how to reinvent ourselves. We have identified as that old and broken thing for so long, we don’t know who we’d be as something else. Though we are being born into something new, we may experience the pressure that comes with that newness.

Photo by David Newkirk

Resources for Perspective

Yet, in truth, there are powerful resources, like the relaxing and illuminating practice of Yoga Nidra that can be a tremendous asset in times like these, such as a robust internal sense of empathy, a broad perspective over life’s purpose and problems, and a ready capacity to be present with what is. When we can draw upon our ability to be compassionate, responsive and not reactive, empathetic, and loving to self, we can better access the greater love that is available outside the chaos or trigger.

But even with the world waking up to Awareness, who’s going to clean up this messy world?

What have you discovered about yourself during this year and what has helped you to resource your best self to manage this difficult year?

Photo by Alex Adams

 

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott just moved back to Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.

 




On Belonging: Sink Into the Groove

There are many ways to be in the world. It takes an open heart, a keen ear, and a discerning eye to feel into those way that one belongs in the world. I’m both a jazz musician as well as a career yoga, Yoga Nidra, and meditation teacher. I feel as if these pursuits chose me rather than me choosing them. How do we find our own belonging in the world?

Sinking Into Your Groove

Photo by Joshua Terry

When I am playing with my jazz group, there is something magical that happens each time we play a tune. I count it off, we all begin playing, and for the first second it feels as though there are four musicians who are playing a song. Then, our minds and hearts feel the rhythm, the melody starts to sing, and in an instant we stop being four different musicians playing a song and become one organic being with four parts, all in magical sync. We sink into the groove. It feels miraculous to realize I’m controlling the saxophone and playing my guts out, but I feel larger than just the saxophone. I feel like I am the whole band, the whole sound. I’ve been playing with many of these musicians for years and such a habit of this synchronicity has spawned an ability to read one another’s mind or communicate subtly without using words.

Belonging To Your Voice

At the end of the night as we are packing up our instruments and talking about how the night went, I sometimes wonder why the drummer chose the drums and the bass player chose the bass and the piano player chose the piano. Inevitably I think about why I chose the sax and realize that there was really no decision in the matter. I heard the sax when I was a little kid and instantly knew that it was something I wanted to play. It wasn’t a matter of choosing, rather figuring out that I belonged there and bravely following the path that opened for me. And such was the case with each other musician. We all followed our path, which seemed to be laid out for us, and in so doing it led us to run parallel with each other in this meaningful way. And so we were able to become the majesty of this music, four parts of a miracle.

Choosing Your Path

Of course this extends to each person and to each part of our lives. We all bravely choose the path that seems to call to us, and follow it, knowing that it is our path. And just because we follow our path doesn’t mean we will be bereft of problems, but at least we’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that this is our destiny. We may come to realize that we’ve grown up thinking that one path is right for us but realize that something else calls to us now. I’ll always play music, it’s in my blood, but growing up I never expected to be teaching yoga as a career. Still, nothing could be more natural for me. I’ve followed this path and it pays off every time I encounter the heart and soul of another practitioner.

When we sink into our groove, we stop trying to be any other way than how we are. We stop trying to project this perfect, realized, put together, abstract vision of ourselves and allow ourselves to really taste all the flavors of living, both the bitter and the sweet. Though sometimes it is hard, it is also very real. By willing to play our instrument, we become part of the great whole. I think of our kula, our group of like-minded practitioners: all practicing in our own way, with our strengths and limitations, but contributing to the organic whole by being exactly who we are. As we do so, we will become clearer and clearer with our relationship to our Larger Self as we feel what it is like to be the group, to be the practice, to be life.

The following is a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke called The Swan, which speaks to moving into our element and turning awkwardness into graciousness. There is also a beautiful allusion to letting go and realizing the Larger Self.

This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done,
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

And to die, which is the letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan, when he nervously lets himself down
into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each moment more fully grown,
more like a king, further and further on.

–Translated by Robert Bly

Bring who you are to the world this week and practice sinking into your groove and your own largeness.

 

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott just moved back to Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.

 




Yoga Practice vs Yoga Experience

Did you know that when we say the word “yoga” it means two different things entirely? The experience of yoga is different than the practice of yoga. Knowing how one works with the other helps our journey in both. The experience of yoga and the practice of yoga are different things and both are different for each person.

 

The Experience of Yoga

When I feel the experience of yoga, I feel like everything is perfect, like the world is just the way that it needs to be and I am a privileged be a guest here. When I feel yoga, I feel boundless, like my body is able, lithe, and strong. I feel like my heart is huge and sturdy enough to hold any pain. When I experience yoga I am aware and intuitive. I am still. Sometimes the experience of yoga is subtle and fleeting, just happy and aware. Mostly, when I feel yoga, I feel like I’ve sourced something inside that I knew was there all along: a wellspring of creativity, love and understanding and a contentedness to just be.

The experience of yoga is about transformation, the transformation of recognizing our True Selves. It’s not that our current self isn’t real or true, it’s that yoga helps us see the big and deep part of ourselves that doesn’t change. It’s about coming home and seeing ourselves in our true identity.

 

 

The Practice of Yoga

The practice of yoga is about making the conditions right in body, mind and spirit, for the experience of yoga to happen. In our asana practice, we become stronger, more flexible, and balanced. We ease tension from muscles and set our nervous system at ease. We focus our minds and learn presence. We arrange the energy of our bodies to facilitate the mind and spirit. All these qualifiers are vital for the experience of yoga to happen but don’t replace the experience of yoga.

ekapadabakasana Scott Moore photo by Dallas Graham

The practice of yoga may or may not immediately create the experience of yoga. In fact, it’s often when we are doing something other than practicing yoga that we have the experience of yoga. That doesn’t mean that we are doing anything wrong or should stop practicing. The more we practice, we find how to most effectively travel our own pathway to transformation until the path is well-worn.

Simone Weil said, ” Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul.”

She’s saying to keep practicing and one day it will all pay off. Often when we are least expecting it, going about our practice like any other day, we’ll find ourselves in a posture or something and suddenly everything opens up to the experience of yoga, or some sudden insight about ourselves will come flooding in. Sometimes it’s not so grand, but rather subtle and sweet, a simple feeling of contentment. Either way the more we practice, the more frequent these moments come.

I’m excited to be on this yoga journey with you. Every day I experience the value of this practice. I am a practitioner first and foremost and a teacher second and I am humbled by the privilege to walk this path next to you. I hope that through yoga you can taste of that rich experience of yoga, transformation, and experiencing your True Self.

 

Bakasana Scott Moore photo by Dallas Graham

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott just moved back to Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.