Longer Runs

Since shuttering Mound Street Yoga Center, I've enjoyed stretches of time that I haven't experienced in decades. For example, I now have Saturday mornings wide open in my calendar. While I deeply miss the community that came together most Saturday mornings for Yoga, I am thrilled to have this new-found time in my schedule.

As nature is said to abhor a vacuum, the grad-student life almost inevitably engulfs any unscheduled time. To help prevent calendar-encroaching, I protected my Saturday mornings by plugging in long runs.

At first the long runs were about ten miles in length. Thanks to the aerobic base that I've been building since 2014, these long runs are now more commonly fifteen to twenty miles long. This distance-creep is not accidental - I'm training for my first marathon!

Later this month, I plan to run the Driftless 50 trail marathon. This debut performance will most likely not be the prettiest showing, as this trail marathon (and many others) seems to go up …

Reflections on 30-years; Breathe

In reflecting on 30-years of teaching Yoga, I have arrived at three points that I consider essential parts of physical practice - Embody | Align | Breathe

In the prior two blog postings, I unpacked my thoughts on Embody and Align, and today I'd like to explore what I mean when I say breathe.

Breathing is certainly an essential part of the Modern Postural Yoga (MPY) practice, though not always for the reasons that are mentioned. For example, there is a pernicious myth that deep breathing increases oxygen concentration of the blood. While this claim may sound alluring, it's just not true. The body keeps blood oxygen concentration very tightly bound within certain limits, and all the deep breathing in the world is not going to alter this concentration very much. Even if deep breathing did alter concentrations of blood oxygen, would this be desirable?

How many of you consume foods or supplements that are considered anti-oxidants? If you do, you already have a sense of how excess …

Reflections on 30-years; Alignment

You may think that writing about alignment would arise spontaneously for the founder of Alignment Yoga, though I’ve struggled to coalesce my thoughts into a manageable blog posting. After some serious procrastination, I’ve decided that tonight is the night to put fingers to keyboard, and tease apart some ideas about alignment.
In the prior blog posting, I discussed how simply feeling your body is the essence of practice. Independent of technique, cues or alignment, embodiment is perhaps the greatest gift that can arise from investing the time and energy into mind/body practice. Riding on the coattails of this de-emphasis on form is a de-emphasis on postural alignment. This was and is intentional - alignment is overrated.
Many people inhabit bodies that may be considered misaligned, yet experience little if any pain. Other people may suffer terribly with the supposed symptoms of misalignment, yet their bodies are fundamentally well aligned. In working with bodies, causality is often c…

Reflections on 30-years; Embodiment

As many of you may have seen, my wife and I recently decided to close our Madison-based Mound Street Yoga Center. This decision has been a long time in coming, as the fortunes of our iconic, single-room studio have been declining for quite some time. I am nostalgic for its former glory, though honesty, I am also relieved to openly discuss the years-long decline that consumed more and more of our time and energy. A lovely chapter is closing, and in its wake, another chapter most assuredly has begun.
Part of this closing-of-chapters involves my approach to teaching Yoga. As my previous blog posting initiated, I’m reflecting on 30+ years of teaching Yoga. What does it mean to do something for thirty years, and how does this longevity inform future actions?
I’ve traversed many paths within the corpus of Yoga – from purity-of-essence-alignment, to the most vigorous of Vinyasa-flow; ultimately finding satiety within the midrange of the pendulum’s swings. The resulting body of work identified …

Thirty Years of Teaching Yoga

Sometime last month marked my 30th year of teaching Yoga. While I cannot remember the first day that I taught Yoga in the Spring of 1989, I clearly remember the life milestones that concurred with that then-new beginning. Those milestones occurred sometime in the month of April, and since then I've considered April, 1989 as the beginning of this significant chapter of my life. For most of those years, I taught Yoga as my full-time profession. During many of those years, I was delighted with my choice to follow my passion for Yoga, though some of those years were filled with feelings of doubt.

The arc of my Yoga teaching and practice has evolved over the years, more or less following a U-shaped curve. In the beginning of my teaching and practice, I was young and in love with Yoga. As I descended into midlife, my faith in the hagiographic portrayals of Yoga and its lore wore thin. Now that I'm rounding the bend to the age when many of my friends are retiring, I have had a renai…

Stuff I Learned - Thoughts on Heat Therapy (and Discomfort)

I cannot claim an affinity for sauna based on heritage, any more than I can claim a fondness for Citroen cars or BMW motorcycles based on heritage. Despite my name, I'm a mutt of European ancestry; I'm no more Scandinavian than I am anything else. Despite my lack of ancestral inclination to sauna, however, I've always been drawn to the intense heat of sauna, sweat lodge and hot springs.

When I was a student-athlete at the University of Minnesota, my track coach encouraged sauna to expedite recovering from hard workouts. Even at that young age, I eagerly followed coach's advice, at least when it involved sauna. Upon graduation, I immediately embarked on a years-long, back-to-nature period that included lots of sauna (albeit wearing less clothing than during my varsity athlete days!)

Once I settled in the rural hill country outside of Madison 25+ years ago, my sauna-philia only increased. From September thru April of most years, I sought out every opportunity to embrace…

Speed Play

When I was first introduced to the Speed Play approach to running, I was wholly underwhelmed. I had little (almost none) sense of where my limbs were at any given time, and running was a less-than-satisfactory experience. Various coaches suggested that I run cross country in order to improve my coordination, and I obliged by running cross country in 1980 and 1981. Training was painfully challenging, and the high point of each workout was hanging out with my teammates at the close of practice. At the time, I could scarcely imagine that nearly forty years later, I'd be joyfully doing Fartlek workouts.

The workout, Fartlek, derives from the Swedish word for speed play. I've just returned from 90+ minutes of Fartlek running in Blue Mound State Park; delighted in the interplay of running slowly, darting up hills, and coasting along flats. Rather than structuring a workout into discreet bits of this and that, the Fartlek invites a playful approach to rolling with the terrain. The F…