Time to shift focus.

During any given pandemic, I would have predicted that there would have been more time to write blog postings. Now that we are well into our first pandemic, I guess it’s time to recalibrate expectations for intra-pandemic productivity! In this time of ongoing change, I’ve been meaning to check in for quite awhile.             Over the past four years, I’ve shared some of my experiences as a non-traditional graduate student. The return to school was exactly what the doctor ordered in terms of mental stimulation, exposure to eustress (and just enough distress!), and an opportunity to develop new skills. Over the past few years, I’ve consistently described my return to school as among the best decisions that I’ve ever made. At the same time, the return to school hasn’t been entirely sustainable. The long hours spent studying made me less available with my friends and family, the opportunity cost in exploring new opportunities impacted our businesses, and my shifting focus has certainly alt…

Streaming Classes: Our response to the COVID-19 crisis

Like virtually all studios, I curtailed all in-person classes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While this was an obvious choice, the next question was what next? We decided to try an experiment so many other teachers and studios are also attempting - to move classes online. This took a considerable amount of work, but we knew if we were going to do it, we needed to do it well.

In just a few days, the Blue Mounds Movement Lab has been 100% converted to a video studio. We've leveraged all the video and audio equipment that we accumulated over years - as well as our 10+ year old YouTube channel and new 1GBps internet connection - to offer some of the highest quality online yoga classes available.

These free classes are focused on de-stressing and coming together. While we may be physically distancing from each other, we can still come together temporally by practicing together. These classes are not intended to be a yoga-workout, as I'll be rolling out mindful workout progr…

Individual Health for Herd Health

By now you’ve certainly heard the imperatives to socially distance, wash your hands and to stay home if you’re sick. These tried & true suggestions are our best bet to reduce the impacts of COVID-19 on the health of the herd, though I think there are additional measures that are worth mentioning. In these challenging days, I keep in mind a sentiment that I’ve heard attributed to Louis Pasteur; the condition of the host matters more than the virulence of the pathogen. To this end, I am focusing on three factors that I believe are important for maintaining the vitality of the hosts (me, you and us); good diet, plenty of exercise and compassion.
As many of you may know, I’m a strong believer in a whole-foods, plant-based diet. In addition to my usual adherence to a plant-based diet, the recent uptick in reported COVID-19 cases has inspired me to make additional changes. In the interest of increasing my chances of staying healthy, I’m focusing on nourishing my gut health by eliminating…

Loneliness - A Modern Epidemic

As many of you know, I'm loathe to use the term self-care. Many of the world's religions and spiritual traditions consider cherishing or clinging to the self as the fundamental source of suffering. Why would we take care of the thing that's the root cause of what makes us miserable? That being said, I acknowledge that burning the candle on both ends is ultimately depleting, and depletion hampers your capacity to fully participate in life.

This past week I delivered a presentation on self-care to rural mental health providers. I arrived armed with my usual array of slides, charts and factoids, all in the interest of delivering an argument for what I consider to be the basics of self-care; sleep, cardiovascular exercise and meditation. While I do not feel that this list is exhaustive, I generally focus on these three as the first-order foci in developing a sustainable self-care regimen.

The first two hours of the presentation included several double-takes at my watch. I cou…

Ready? Ready.

At the University of Wisconsin - Madison, the new semester begins in a few days. While I inevitably greet the start of a new semester with a refrain along the lines of I can't believe how fast that break passed by, I have some interesting projects afoot in 2020 that I'm excited to embrace.

The project that will occupy most of my attention, and admittedly should occupy even more of my time each week, will be my dissertation. Having completed the MS last Fall, it's now time for me to set the wheels into motion on the Ph.D. I have a very promising topic, one some colleagues have referred to as potentially high-impact science, and this coming semester I will analyze a subset of the data to verify that my idea is do-able.

I will also be working on submitting an article or two for publication. The first order of business in this CV-building initiative is transforming my MS thesis into publishable form. The format for my first-choice journal has a maximum length of 2,000 words. …

Movement and Meditation

In my experience, meditation and working-out are wonderfully complementary. The past week I've been on retreat in Crestone, Colorado, and doing a deeper dive into the relationship of meditation, running and calisthenics.

For years I referred to my Yoga practice as moving meditation, and I think that there was some truth to that labelling. I moved mindfully, and I found that sinking into the end-range of my joints opened the door to some sense of the vastness of mind. Unfortunately, I also found that these moments were transient, and I clung to those mindstates with the tenacity of a predator sinking their claws into their prey.
Around the same time that I organically started moving away from Yoga, I met the meditation master, Mingyur Rinpoche. With the guidance of Rinpoche and his senior instructors, I learned that the mindstates that I'd abused my body to attain were there all along, recognizable at any time and at any place.

As the past decade unfolded, I've explored ho…

Reflections on Travels.

The other day a number of ten-years-on photos showed up in friends' Facebook feeds. Nostalgia-driven endeavors often draw me in, and I searched my 2009 photo albums for a suitable photo of my cat, Buddy.

In scrolling through archived photos, I was struck by the number of photos from my travels in India and Nepal. I've been fortunate to have spent a good deal of time in South Asia, and I have many rich memories of the people, places and traditions I encountered in these travels. These encounters enriched my life in many ways, both expected and unexpected.
My first trips to India were ostensibly to explore the roots of Yoga. At the behest of my friend Nagindas Sanghavi, I embarked on a pilgrimage to meet Sri Morari Bapu. After a whirlwind flight, 30-hour trans-India train trip and an introduction to the ubiquitous autorickshaws, I made it to my inaugural Ram Katha in Kolkata, India. Meeting Bapu proved propitious, as he let me in on an open secret; the Yoga postures I diligentl…