Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Asana Dance

Last weekend was incredible. Sharonji and Davidji came out of Dance retirement for an outstanding performance with Sandhi and Louis. Omega hosted a weekend conference in NYC entitled Being Yoga. I was not able to make it to classes as I was teaching for most of the time the conference was happening but I did have the opportunity to go on Friday night. The evening began with a performance by MC Yogi. He got the energy up in the room as we chanted to Ganesh to help remove obstacles for Obama on his way to the whitehouse. He then made way for Sharonji and Davidji. The people in the room gave a warm welcome not to mention loud. You have to understand the dynamics of the situation though. As yoga has become popular many teachers have become stuck out and helped to shape the contemporary face of yoga in the west. Sharon and David are two of these people. They like many others work tirelessly on so many projects. They have authored three books already and hare working on two now. Traveling around the world teaching in Canada before the conference and Russia just a few days after the schedule does not allow for much down time. With this in mind Sharon choregraphed the dance herself to music which she composed and sang herself. The song is a chant to the Guru in the form of Peace, Knowledge, Bliss and Absolute. David did a slide show that had many different great teachers. Sandhi and Sharon along with David and Louis really balanced each other well. Duncan was teaching at the conference as well so we got to hang a bit during and after. I hope you enjoy the pics.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Seoul Day 3

Thursday was a big day. We began teaching at Jai two classes one open and one basic. In the evening we went to teach at Ilsan which is about 40 minuets north west of Seoul at a place called Yoga-Holic.I had met the owner Shim at the Asia Yoga Conference in Hong Kong. We showed up about 2 hours before the class was supposed to begin so we took a walk. Shim showed us Lake Park, there were parts that you could walk out a bit on what seemed like a plank about a shallow pond with huge lily pads. It was right before sunset and so the sky was beautiful on the way back to the center. The students were very open and receptive not to mention playful. It was great to look out at the faces. No one had taken a Jivamukti Yoga class before except for Michael. We began with a short journey into what is Jivamukti Yoga and then an open class. At the end of class Shim brought out fruit and we took pictures which he posted on the Yoga-Holic website. Afterwards Tomo and I drove back to . The following day friday was a holiday and I was hoping to see some people that until then did not have a chance to make it to class.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Seouled Out

After an amazing time in Japan it was time to head for Korea or as my friend Michael Egan (Maru) insist Corea. I flew in on Tuesday the 1st of October and had a little time off. It was nice to not teach for almost 24hrs. When I go to Korea I stay with the super halfu Tomosapien also know as Tomo. He is the reason that I started teaching in Korea and has been the connection between me and the yoga community. He is one of the most generous people I know and I feel blessed to have him in my life. He came to an adjustment workshop in Japan about a year and a half ago and invited me to teach in Korea. It has been happening ever since. It was my third trip to Korea and each time it get better. I taught the following day at a space called Jai Yoga. One Basic class followed by an Open class. I was done with my day around 1 pm and we went out for some Bimibap. It is a traditional meal that is served in many places. It consist of a large bowl filled with rice. On top of the rice you have an assortment of veggies. You then put some kind of hot paste on top with some sesame oil and stir the whole thing up. It is really delicious and in fact I ate it almost every day. By the time we had finished eating and got back to the apartment I we were both a bit tired and ended up sleeping till the next day. The next day was a full one and we needed our rest.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Goodbye Dinner

My last night in Tokyo after teaching for about 2 weeks was amazing. Miki Hiro created an sensational dinner. I had no idea he could cook and not only did he cook but produced dish after dish of the most delightful food. It was a very small occasion and the only person missing was Padmini. She also works in fashion and I think fashion week was happening in Paris and so she was on call and could not come. From left to right Hiro is a japanese man that lives in Bali. He came to all of the classes at UTL. Then was Lily on the top with the plate. She has been coming to classes for the past 2 years or so and is bundle of energy. Below her is Ryoko who I met for the first time that night. Below her is Santosima a former model/actress turned super yogini/ayurvedic mystic...bimiO...then in the blue is another Ryoko. She came to class earlier this year and has a very strong practice. She is a contemporary dancer and travels around the world for dance competitions. Next to her is Kanji the tallest Japanese guy ever and the boyfriend to Ryoko number 1. The second picture is the same except the the guy in the white is Miki Hiro super cook.

Tokyo Day 4

I was up way to late the night before. As you might be able to tell from the picture. I was pretty tired and I was about to teach a 2.5hr workshop on adjustments at Under the Light. The class was amazing. Kanae was the translator and she did a great job. Adjustment workshops are always a lot of fun as we do partner work and they have to pick someone they do not know. We focused on backbending asanas with some hip opening. The class flew by and before I knew it we were done.
We were all pretty sweaty and felt great. After we some us went to two places the first was an Indian festival and then Meiji Jingu Temple in Yoyogy park. The festival was packed and it took about 20 minutes of standing on line to order any food. There were many booths selling food but only one of them had completely vegetarian food. We then walked to the temple and on the way the sidewalk was filled with so many musicians and bands...right next to each other. Most of the were playing some form of Rock and Roll. It was kind of crazy because you had to be right in front of the band to be able to distinguish it from the band next to it. At least 15 bands lined up. After we got past them we walked to the temple which is a very famous place and many people consider it to be a hot spot in Japan for high energy. It is a popular place to get married and I think Govinda and Mae had there wedding there. A wedding was happening when we got there and it was beautiful to see what we could of a traditional ceremony. There was only one way in and out and there was a huge entrance way (in the pic below) We then headed of to Mikis apartment as he was cooking dinner for us .

Tokyo Day 3

Saturday was almost like a day off, I only had to teach one class in the afternoon so I spent the day walking around. I went to Shibuya and walked to Omote Sando and Harajuku. It was a beautiful day out and I spent my time walking into the different small shops. Many of the small shops carry clothes made by local designers and you cannot find the designs anywhere else. I bought a few things for my brother because his birthday is coming up. That evening I taught at Under the Light Studio. The workshop was “What is Jivamukti Yoga” The studio was very nice and the students were very excited to be there. After class I had an interview with Sotokoto. It is an environmental magazine that seems to be very popular. The woman interviewing me was very nice as was the photographer. They were both very interested in what the yoga community is doing for the environment and how the Jivamukti method is doing its part in the work needed to create a better world. I talked a little bit about my work with HHA and then of course we went into the vegetarian and vegan discussion. Many people are unaware of just how much an impact being vegan a few days a week can be let alone a lifetime. The U.N. says that animals raised for food cause more greenhouse gas then all of the cars, trucks and suvs in the world combined...that is a lot. Being vegan is not just for me or you or a couple of animals, but the whole planet. After explaining this to them they nodded politely smiled and then asked if there was anything else besides being vegan or vegetarian... It is funny how much people can be for the environment and expect everyone around them to change but choose to stay the same or refuse to see how their actions affect the world. Not everyone drives a hummer or dumps oil or shoots people but everyone eats and usually three times a day, some times more or less. But every time we do we are making a choice to support harm to the world or not. A farm of 5,000 pigs creates the same amount of fecal matter as a town of 50,000 people that is ten times the amount, a lot of shit. Where does that go...”away” where is away and how can I get there? The meat and dairy industry is the number 2 polluter and user of water and oil the number 1 is the military. So can we be for the environment and eat meat or support the need for clean drinking water and have some pork? Fish is no different. The small fisherman is very scarce. These days the ocean is being emptied by huge boats or filled by genetically modified fish. The dredging by the boats kills countless creatures and the GM fish create massive amounts of excrement in the ocean causing the proliferation of sea lice and the suffocation of other sea creatures. I was trying to point out how intricately connected everything is and that our food choices have a huge impact on the earth. We did eventually talk of other ways to be more conscious of the way we treat the earth talking about bringing your own bag when shopping or your own chopsticks. Many people in Japan are surprised when I pull out my own chopsticks. I am always surprised when they do not. So many places have the disposable kind which is a bit crazy considering everyone uses chopsticks. It would be like all the restaurants carrying throwaway forks and spoons. After the interview I went out for dinner with Miki the guy that I am staying with in Tokyo. He started an amazing website called Yoga-Gene. Please check it out. Norisan the owner of Under the Light also came. He is a very cool guy that used to be in IT and now owns the studio. The next day was the last in Tokyo so I stayed out a bit later then I should have I guess...

Tokyo Day 1 & 2


Thursday night I taught two classes at my favorite place in Tokyo, Flow Arts If you go to Tokyo please check them out especially Padmini. She has been helping me for the past 2 years with all of my travels and she is the reason that the classes at Flow Arts are mat to mat. No space in-between. The room is small and gets super hot and sweaty. Its sooooo much fun for me and the students. Many people say they only sweat this much twice a year when I come to town. We bagan with a Basic class then an Open class. I had flown in from Fukouka on the same day and byt the end of the night I was a little tired. Friday was the same schedule minus the flight. After the last class on Friday some of us went out for dinner and the main subject was teacher training. Many people are interested in the Jivamukti method but are afraid to come because of the language barrier. There are five book reports and they have to write and read in english. A friend of mine is taking the teacher training he is half Japanese and half Korean. He started a mixi page and is willing do start study groups in Japan or Korea to help people understand the readings and help with any writing. Padmini is also taking the training so you could ask her any questions you have as well. Again if you are interested please visit the mixi page started by Tomo he is willing to talk to people about questions and really would like to form a study group for people who would like to join and talk about the books and the book reports. (The picture is from last year but many of the same people came so I used it again. My cat chewed my camera charger so no camera for me)

Saturday, October 4, 2008



I arrived in Fukouka tuesday night and was greeted by two very special beings...Heeki and her husband Rejun. They were so hospitable and kind to me. They took me to eat at amazing places and one of the best parts was the dogs they have, one is Toltori which means smart dog. A super cute 14 year old Yorkshire. There are two other dogs Chihuahuas, Barbie and Wee Wee. Wee Wee is french (OuiOui) but I think she is the one that left me a little surprise next to my luggage so I call her Wee Wee like Pee Pee. I was only in Fukouka but one day but I taught three 2.5hrs workshops...First was Living Liberated (in the picture above left) then a workshop on adjustments then Chakra Tunning Jivamukti style. It was great and everyone really enjoyed. In fact it was a family affair. Heeki translated the two workshops at Yoga Breeze the first one her husband took along with his sister and mother. I did not realized they were all related until after class. The room got super hot and people got a good sweat in. The second class at YB was Chakra Tunning and it was in the evening. The adjustment class in the middle of the day was nice and small. There were 11 of us. Its really nice to have a small group. My friend Shiho an amazing DJ has a small studio space that only fits 11. Heeki and Rejun took me to some really delicious restaurants, they knew all of the little tradiotnal places that served veggy and vegan food. The next day I was very sad to leave Fukouka with such incredible hosts but I had a flight to Tokyo and was teaching that evening an Open class and a Basic class. So I say goodbye to the amazing space of Yoga Breeze and the Jivamukti family there and headed to Tokyo.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Osaka Kyoto

Kyoto and Osaka

I took the train after teaching and dinner from Yokohama to Kyoto. Two students from the HHA class were also on the train so they helped me navigate a little. I was greeted at the station by the translator and super cool lady Chiho (Chiho and Tomoko in the picture below). She did all of the translating in the Kansai area. I checked into the Hotel and knocked out hard... The next morning we went to Osaka to teach HHA at a placed called Studio Yoggy (in the picture above). They have a very strong Anusara influnce and John Friend taught there before the Hong Kong conference. In fact it was the first non Anusara workshop they had ever had. The students were very receptive and the manager Tomoko was very sweet. After class I rode the train back to Kyoto 1 hour and taught again. This time at a place called Tamisa which is smaller but very sweet. By the end of class I was ready for a game of naps but as usual we went of for dinner with some students and talked about class, veganism and some were interested in the Jivamukti Teacher Training. For those of you in Japan interested in Jivamukti Teacher Training please visit http://mixi.jp/view_community.pl?id=3509936

The next day I taught in Kyoto in the morning a class on What is Jivamukti Yoga then off to Osaka for another workshop. Both classes were great and sold out however classes in Japan have much more space between the mats then in the sates. Some of the studios I have taught at before know the drill and put people close but others are reluctant as they do not want to disturb the students. I can understand but I like it close and hot so we are working on it. After the two workshops Tomoko came and met us for dinner with her daughter. She was sooooo cute. I then got on the train for Fukouka for one of the best parts of the trip......

Thursday, October 2, 2008



After teaching in Nagoya Kumiko and I headed out to Yokokhama for the Yoga Festa. We taught Hip Hop Asana and it was soooooo much fun. The class was 3.5 hours with a half hour break in the middle. Having been sold out for over two months there was a lot of anticipation. Again there were many new students and those who had taken my class many times. I did not get to see the venue very much and there were some people I was hoping to see on this trip but missed. I would have liked to take some classes with Govinda Kai and Duncan Wong but I did not have the time. I ran into Uncle Dunks and as always he is a whirlwind of energy. He is one of the hardest working men in the yoga community today, traveling, teaching, giving demonstrations etc. I also wanted to take class with Ken Harakuma perhaps next time. I did see Ken but we did not get a chance to talk. He is a very sweet and soft spoken man. Hip Hop Asana on the other hand was loud and sweaty. We began class with Aka Pan...not his real name it means Red Pants, because his pants are always red...anyway he taught some hip hop dance to the class for about 10 minutes instead of Surya Namaskar. It was great. People were dancing, sweating, laughing and seemed to really be getting into it. Afterwards we went into some arm balances and the second half was a bit slower and I talked a bit more about what HHA is. Anytime I teach a HHA class the money I make is put aside so that when I return to the states I use the money to teach at places for free or purchase blocks or mats for those who come to class but cannot afford them. It also gives me the freedom to teach more without asking for anything in return. At the end of the class again we went out for some vegan dinner. Its great to share dinner with students and especially those who do not usually eat vegan. Afterwards Kumiko and I split up, she went to Tokyo and I went out to Kyoto, Osaka and Fukouka. It was a sad but necessary moment...ummmm I think Kumiko was ready to get rid of me.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Back to Japan City by City


My first stop in Japan on this trip was Nagoya. Nagoya is a great city and I taught at a placed called My Soul 8 www.mysoul8.com. Kumiko was with me and did all of the translating. She is amazing. The first class was on What is Jivamukti Yoga. We talked about the 5 tenets and had fun with the asana practice. It was great to see so many people again and to meet new people as well. After class Kumiko and I led Satsang. The satsang was by donation and the money we raised was donated to NaYoga, an NPO that promotes and helps different yoga teachers from Japan and elsewhere at different venues. The satsang was focused creating community and the strength a strong yoga school can encourage in the students to feel confident in their ability to create change first in themselves and then the world. We watched the Chew On This DVD which you can see at www.peta.org. After satsang we went to dinner together...not everyone but a few of us. A very small place that I love to eat at in Nagoya. Its owned by a guy and his wife and they have the veggies delivered fresh daily and all the food is locally grown. Kumiko and I stayed the night in Nagoya before we headed out to Yokohama for the Yoga Festa.