Archive for April, 2016

Yoga training: Modification of the mind-stuff

April 18th, 2016

I'm reading The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as part of the teacher training. Here's one sutra (saying) that resonated with me quite a bit: Yogas citta vrtti nirodah. The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.

"All the differences of the outside world are the outcome of your mental modification," translates Sri Swami Satchidananda. He uses the example of a ten-year-old child meeting his long-lost father for the first time.

In one minute, the father goes from the stranger at the door to the child's daddy. Does this change the man? No. Did the child's world totally change? Yes.

"The entire world is based on your thoughts and mental attitude. The entire world is your projection," he continues, with a reminder that your values may change in a mere second. Remember that, and don't stress so much about external things.

"Things outside neither bind or liberate you; only your attitude towards them does that," Satchidananda adds.

Of course, I could have just asked my friend Paul Drewes. His entire life philosophy is: Just be happy. During my times of duress Paul has let me cry on his shoulder and has consistently reminded me of that same concept.

Paul and me.

Paul and me.

"Can you control it? No? Stop worrying, then," he has chided me. He actually takes his own advice, too. I don't know how he does it so well, but I do admire that.

Swami Paul. I need to keep practicing and maybe one day I can get there, too.
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Yoga training: Changing Karma

April 15th, 2016

In May, the topic of study was samskara and karma, and how to change that. Samskara means imprint-  everything you think or do leaves a mental imprint that manifests as karma, which is action. The actions reinforce the thought and the cycle is called samskara.

Amanda Webster

Amanda Webster

Because my teacher Amanda Webster was a behavioral therapist, she brought operant conditioning theory into this and asked us to apply actions from our own lives into this concept, decide if this is behavior we want to change or reinforce, and how should we keep doing that?

Everyone in class is overcommitted and stressed in general, so there is dissonance between our intent to practice and our ability to take action to actually get on a mat. We looked at this and came up with some small ways to try to bridge that gap. Baby steps, right?

My number one issue at this time is sleep, which affects my energy. If I don't sleep well, I lack enough energy to exercise in the day, which leads to more unrest, sometimes carried through to the next day.

Someone else's issue is surfing too much (boo hoo.) He said surfing once a day is great, but indulging in a second session kinks his neck and ruins the rest of his day. We were all very sorry for him.

She is having us track our behavior in detail. I guess it's the same reason why people trying to lose weight are encouraged to log their eating habits; it makes you more attuned to what you are doing.

Samskara has three stages: active, latent, and "burned seeds." Amanda's simple analogy is to a smoker trying to quit:

Active: if you see someone smoking you give in.

Latent: You use your resolve to not light up a cigarette.

Burned seeds: You remember smoking but you no longer desire it.

Paramahansa Yogananda said, "The seeds of past karma cannot germinate if they are roasted in the fires of divine wisdom." The fire that roasts them is called tapas.

I will 1) never look at Spanish tapas the same, and 2) I look forward to burning a LOT of seeds.

What's your samskara and do you want to change it?
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Yoga Training: Breath is life

April 13th, 2016

Yoga as a lifestyle reminds me of Buddhism as a lifestyle. There are apparently a lot of yoga sayings that really smart people wrote down centuries ago, that still hold timeless wisdom.


There are 196 sutras, to be exact, but as intense as the course has been, we only got into four so far. They're beautiful, and I wanted to share.

Sthira sukhamasanam: Establish presence in asana (the practice) through steadiness and ease.

Prayatna saithilyananta samapattibhyam: By lessening restlessness and by continued meditation upon the infinite, posture is mastered.

Tato dvandvanabhighatha: Consequently, one is not disturbed by dualities.

Tasmin sati svasaprasvasayorgativicchedah pranayama: Upon asana being acquired, the movements on inhalation and exhalation should be controlled. This is pranayama (life force).

Clearly, I'm going to need to find my Rosetta Stone for Sanskrit.

I love how the philosophy is much broader than what Westerners think of as yoga for exercise. That's what I thought I was getting when I first started taking classes regularly a few years ago!

Yoga was developed as a vehicle for meditation, and meditation is all about the breath and stilling the mind. I have a monkey mind, as it's called - jumps around like a monkey in a tree.

I can meditate just like this!

I can meditate just like this!

And so I remember to breathe, and keep breathing, with intent and focus, with the understanding that the lessons for yoga can also be taken as a guidebook for tips on how to deal with life.

Mind blown! Transformation starting!
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Elvis croons to administrative professionals on their day

April 12th, 2016

Administrative Professionals Day is coming up, and here's a twist on the usual lunch outing. Take him or her to Leo Days’ Tribute to Elvis Show on Wednesday, April 27, from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. This special event will be held at the Pomaikai Ballrooms at Dole Cannery on 735 Iwilei Road.

Administrative Professionals Day FINAL

This Elvis Tribute Show features award-winning Elvis performer Leo Days in authentic costumes, a full band, back-up singers, and dancers. Days has performed thousands of shows and festivals throughout the U.S. and the world.

Leo Days' Tribute To Elvis Show. Courtesy: Nancy Bernal

Leo Days' Tribute To Elvis Show. Courtesy: Nancy Bernal

In 2009, Days placed in the top five at Elvis Presley Enterprise’s Ultimate Elvis contest in Memphis. He kicked off the inaugural Elvis Lives Tour in 2010, performing in 26 cities across the United States, and has been invited back every year since its inception.

In 2015, Leo headlined the “Burn’n Love Waikiki” show at The Magic of Polynesia Showroom for four months, which ranked as number one show in Honolulu on Emcee Al Waterson will be hosting.

Tickets are $45 per person and includes a complete lunch buffet with non-alcoholic beverages and an Elvis inspired dessert, service charge, and tax. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. with the lunch buffet beginning at 11 a.m. Leo Days’ Tribute to Elvis starts at noon.

Photo ops with Days immediately follos the show. Parking is $3 with validation. For reservations or more information, call (08) 695-4496. Last day for reservations is April 25. More at

Yoga teacher training begins!

April 11th, 2016

I've decided to take a training course to learn to be a yoga teacher. It was never in my goals to teach yoga, but the opportunity came across my path spontaneously, as perhaps the best things in life do.

I'm going to detail the series in a blog, but run it all together in retrospect, so that you as a reader will have more continuity.

This begins the first blog from April 2015:

I have a yoga teacher who I really like, Amanda Webster, whose occasional retreats I try to attend. She's popular and has a large and loyal following.

Amanda Webster. Courtesy: Amanda Webster.

Amanda Webster. Courtesy: Amanda Webster.

I can see why; she has an excellent and accessible teaching style that accommodates all levels of experience, and she's well-versed in not just yoga, but the lifestyle and science that it's derived from. Her passion and wisdom comes through in her teaching.

After one retreat, she invited the class to sign up for her one year training program. "I don't want to be a teacher," I declined.

Me, Amanda, and Julie Arigo at a retreat.

Me, Amanda, and Julie Arigo at a retreat.

"It will transform you. You should think about it," she countered.

And so it was. I do whatever Amanda says, so I signed up. Amanda can tell me to handstand, and I will ask, How long? LOL.

She crafted it as a one year course that exceeds the minimum 200 hour teacher requirement. It can be done in a much shorter time frame, but she styled it this way purposely, to give the students time to absorb the lessons and let yoga grow into a regular part of our lives. I like how thoughtful she is about that.

Her course is comprised of intense, all day Saturday-Sunday clinics, on one weekend a month, over the course of a year. I'm think I'm going for the teacher certification.

If I'm going to do all the work, I might as well go all the way. For this, I'll have to do all the homework and meet some other qualifications like a teaching practicum. I'm just going to take it on faith that I'll "transform" as she said.

We completed the first month, and it both was and wasn't what I expected. The classes are structured as such: Discussion, two hours of yoga, lecture, wrap up.

Here in the first month, we learned about the history of yoga (key figures, different styles, key dates, common Sanskrit terms), got an overview of the science of Ayurveda, and discussed our intentions and goals for the class.

Amanda also deconstructed the basics of teaching, which we would all probably do intuitively, but it was nice to see it analyzed and spelled out. I've been a ski instructor and have very occasionally assisted at the jujitsu dojo with the lower levels (I was a brown belt when I was active in jujitsu), and I have never been taught how to be a teacher.

She has background as a behavioral therapist, so this attention to detail and thoroughness didn't surprise me; I appreciated her attention to that.

During the yoga sessions, it was part-exercise, part-learning. We've all come to the clinic with moderate to high levels of experience in yoga, but - in my experience - nobody has ever stopped to detail all the aspects of how to do a pose correctly, and what it's for.

For instance, we started with the most basic pose- Mountain- which looks like you're just standing there. She fine-tuned our posture, but to reinforce the lesson, she had us try a few incorrect postures, just to experience the difference between right and wrong.

I guess you could say I expected all this, because it's all outlined in the course description (at

What I didn't expect, however, was how tired my brain would be. I had a small headache both nights after I went home. I've done several weekend retreats now and I have never left feeling tired.

I really liked the lessons, and feel my eyes are opened to a whole new area of life that I would otherwise not have considered studying more about. It was just really intense.

I was also pleasantly surprised by how buoyant my spirit felt after the weekend: lighter, happier, joyful. It's what yoga does for me, but still - the feeling was more expansive than before, and it is always so lovely to encounter.
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