Tag: eoin

Are You in Love or at War with Your Body?

Eoin finn in love or at war

I am practicing to a routine on Cody App. I always enjoy what the next generation of yogis are bringing to the practice. I love the “new school” moves and the creativity these Instagram stars bring to the table.

The warmups are vigorous right out of the start.  We do what seems like a trillion chaturangas, plank with the knee and forehead touching, chaturanga to dolphin.  I thought I was pretty fit by my arms are shaking.

“Wow, I must not be pushing myself a lot in my personal practice,” I think to myself “because this is damn hard.”

I love the challenge, I love getting strong and I love the heat it brings.  At one point we hit a pose that is about stretching and not strengthening and we are told that is the way it works for this teacher. We must work hard and then earn a rest.

The thing is, when the time comes for poses that are emphasize stretching as opposed to conditioning my body for fitness, I find myself not as open and flexible as I normally am for these poses.  It’s not that I haven’t been working.  My muscles are warm, I’ve physically exerted myself and my sweatshirt came off long ago.  I’m warm.

The thing is, I am just not “embodied” – with the fast pace and the performance-oriented practice I haven’t had time to let my mind penetrate my body and untie the knots from the inside out.  Rather, the emphasis has been on the outer body movements of muscles and bones and perfecting the shapes of the asana.

I’ve been doing yoga but haven’t had time to feel the yoga. My mind is still trying to submit my body into a flexible and toned person, but it’s a one-way conversation.  It’s a boss, rather than an equal participant in the process; it’s running a dictatorship of mind controlling my body rather than a democracy where the mind and body work together in synergy.

This approach is endemic to our modern culture and frankly a lot of the early yoga I was exposed to. Mind over matter and not mind within matter.  It’s a feeling of control rather than harmony.

I’ve been writing about embodiment for our Blissology Teacher’s Training manual.  I am committing this year to creating incredible teachers who can impact their communities through yoga, mindfulness and love; Our Bliss Army.

I have been thinking the whole time during the practice, “wow, I should get our Blissology Teachers together so we should all do this class as a group so I can point out the difference between doing and feeling yoga.”

Then it comes: the instructor says a phrase that explains exactly what I feel behind this approach:

During a long, two-minute hold of warrior two the instructor says in his sermon:

Don’t let your body control your mind, let your mind control your body.”

It’s as if there is a battle between team body and team mind.

Plank Pose Eoin Finn

In plank pose, can you somatically regulate your body and keep yourself calm or do you want to mentally conquer your body?

I used to think and teach like this before it became clear what embodiment and specifically what “embodied peace” was.

The “Power Yoga” process was like this.  Hold people in an impossibly long plank pose.  As their arms were shaking and they were about to break, the soliloquy was:

“Life is full of hardships, there are going to be so many challenges we face in life; relationships, arguments, traffic…. The only thing we can control is our reactions to things so develop a resilient mind now.”

It seemed like good enough advice but the problem was it was a mental game that involved cutting off feedback from circuitry to the body and over-riding it with strength of my mind.

I’ve learned that a better way for me to deal with those scenarios is to use bodily sensations and not numb myself to them.  For example, while holding plank pose, I would notice that my throat and jaw would tighten, my breath would constrict and become short and my butt would clench.

What I needed to do was to literally, relax the jaw, loosen the butt from clenching, and keep the breath L.S.D. (Long, Slow and Deep.) I could take the lid off of the pressure cooker and remain calm in a challenge not by cutting myself off of bodily feedback, but by using it to my advantage.

Suddenly even these hard poses became no sweat. Literally.  I stopped sweating buckets when before I used to be one of those sweaty yoga guys nobody wanted to put their mats beside they were dripping bodily fluids onto their neighbor’s mats.

My physical toolbox of mind-body integration to maintain calmness under pressure became indispensable to me.  The incredible thing is that this has huge implications for life: whether dropping into a scary wave on my surfboard, in a situation of confrontation, I can control my reactions physically and maintain my setting of calm and clarity.

I can use my body to find mental flow states. I can somatically self-regulate towards peace.

How about You?

How to Find Peace in an Over-Stimulated World.

eoin finn blissology commit to bliss course

How to find peace in an over stimulated world Do you agree that we are becoming more busy and scrambled with each passing year?

In our Commit to Bliss Course starting Nov 14 we have different Blissology Discussion topics

One of them is: “What is different about the world now then your parent’s generation?”

One obvious answer is that we are always on. We have so much stimulation, data and pressure to respond immediately to an overwhelming number of messages. This is what the Yogis called “Rajasic “ energy. In such an overwhelming, rajasic world, what happens to us if we don’t take the time to find peace?

Obviously, our minds suffer and our bodies can become sick.

You know that meditation is an important tool to counter this. But, as I pose in a question in this video, “how do you truly feel about mediation?” It’s like dieting. We do it because we HAVE TO but it’s not enjoyable. Many of us meditate because it’s something we have to do on our “spiritual to-do” list.

This is hard for me to watch because I feel like meditation is like a “breath massage.” I have found ways to make it enjoyable that I want to share. Have a listen – there are some important ideas here facing our modern era and the world our children and grandchildren will inherit

Let me know your thoughts

Find Peace, Everyone. Commit to Bliss.

#blissology #blissarmy #committobliss

 

Buyer Beware: Not All Breathwork is Relaxing

Eoin Chakra Physiology and Hormones
In a world of extremes we love to push the boundaries of

Commit to Bliss is Unique and Powerful course to learn the tools of Somatic Breathing and Embodied Physiology so we can self regulate back to peace in any life situation.

 

Imagine being brand new to snow-skiing and on your first run you ended up taking the wrong chair lift. Instead of going to the manageable bunny slope, you got thrust off the chair lift straight into a double diamond run. How would you feel looking down that steep pitch? To many experienced skiers, this is the dream. However, to the new skier most likely provokes sheer terror.

I had a blind spot when it came to how I taught yogic breathing techniques. I now see this blind spot everywhere as people quickly jump on the bandwagons of Wim Hof, the “IceMan.”

This is why I want to share this post now as a “Buyer Beware” PSA. I believe that if breathing techniques were packaged goods they should come with a label. “Warning, not all techniques are good for all people.”

With one in five people in US has an anxiety disorder, I see many yogic breathing techniques or Wim Hof Breathing techniques being described as relaxing antidotes to stress and anxiety. I want the word to get out that breathwork is not a “one size fits all shop.”

Let me circle back to the skiing analogy and my blind spot. I had been sharing these techniques in my classes up until 15 years ago. I loved the “double diamond” runs of long breath holds (Kumbhaka) and rapid breathing (Khapalabhati,) the same way I love big waves or double black diamond ski runs.

 

 

I spent many years practicing Kumbaka (long breath holds) and Kapalabhati (Rapid Breathing) by my teacher Gioia Irwin who’s lineage goes back to B.K.S. Iyengar.

As I prepare for an upcoming book and course on the Yoga Sutras, even Patanjali describes the serenity of the breath holds as the pinnacle of the yogic Pranayama experience (Check out Sutra 2.50.) How could people not like these techniques?

However, when I would teach them to students, many of them came to me afterwards saying that they were not experiencing peace at all, but they were going through traumatic experiences.

They were not seeing chakras, angelic auras or the light of divine consciousness. Not at all. What they were describing to me was panic flashbacks. Some described it to the claustrophobic experience of being put into MRI machines after being injected with purple die to check for tumors.

It made me seek feedback from other students on these techniques. What I found was that during these breathing techniques, many of them were secretly feeling claustrophobic, light-headed, dizzy and full of panic.

You may have seen some of my Instagram memes (Eoinisms) like the popular “Less Drama, More Pranayama.” What is fully clear to me now is that for about 1 in 6 people, I was causing “More Drama, through Pranayama!”

It’s no wonder they felt agitated because in these rapid breathing techniques, we are actually hyperventilating. Those rapid exhalations lower carbon dioxide levels which in turn lead to narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain!

When our blood supply to the brain is decreased, we will experience symptoms like lightheadedness and tingling in the fingers.

It’s actually crazy to consider that people who were already feeling anxious or trauma were now trying to fight off lightheadedness and numb fingers! And they had no tools to deal with this. And they were told this is “stress-reducing response. It wasn’t stress-reducing, it was stress-inducing!

On the other side of the coin, holding your breath too long can lower heart rate from a lack of oxygen. This causes CO₂ buildup in your bloodstream. This is called “nitrogen narcosis,” a dangerous buildup of nitrogen gases in your blood that can make you feel disoriented or inebriated.

Again, for people who are already suffering from stress and anxiety, why would we ever push them off the chair lift into the double diamond run of feeling disoriented or inebriated? Of course, you may have the tools stay grounded in this disorientated state so this may be your cup of tea, and that’s fine. My point is we cannot keep pushing people into these experiences under the label of “reduce stress with pranayama or Wim Hof breathing techniques.

To be fair, what I found is that if I worked one on one with these students, we had a lot of success to make the experience slowly more enjoyable. They gradually learned the somatic tools to stay calm in the experience to not allow the sympathetic nervous system or panic response to overtake them.

However, in large group classes, I couldn’t work one on one with people the way these pranayama breathing techniques should be taught. As a result, I stopped sharing these breathing techniques in my classes for that reason. (Again, it’s not that I don’t think they are great in some circumstances, but we have to walk before we run.)

About 15 years ago, I decided to change tacks altogether.

I set out a mission to explore ways of helping people regulate towards peace. What if we could make a goal of getting people onto the green slopes first before launching them of the chair lift into a double diamond slope that can cause the panic response?

I can’t go into the details of all the techniques here, but I am so overjoyed to share the ones that have evolved in our Blissology school.

I want to share these as a more widely accessible alternative to more stimulating breathing techniques. By analogy, I want people to enjoy the effects of a mellow “Cush” strain of marijuana before they launch into the world of Ayahuasca trip intensity. In a world where many of us with life stresses are already in the extremes of stress, I just don’t think that we need to rush to extremes.

I will be sharing many of these techniques in the upcoming Commit to Bliss course Nov 14 and my new Yoga book due out this winter.

The course is primarily about finding “Embodied Peace.” It’s about learning Somatic regulation and what I called “Embodied Physiology.” My goal is to share tools, conversations and science about how to steer our bodies back to peace when we feel anxious, angry or overly stressed.

 

Eoin Chakra Physiology and Hormones

Commit to Bliss is a coursed designed to teach you Embodied Physiology to help regulate your body and mind back to Peace.

 

In the meantime, here is a small an excerpt from page 156 of the upcoming Commit to Bliss Book under the Embodied Breath section.

The general process is to go slow and feel the breath.
Open your senses and notice the body as you breathe.

Reduce the tendency of the human mind to analyze of rush.
Simply enjoy the feeling of peace that comes when we slow down our breath.

Breathe fully into your belly noticing that when the breath becomes more enjoyable your mind feels more spacious and free.

Even as you read the sentences below, make plenty of space to pause and a savor the experience. Soften your eyes and keep the spine long.  Enjoy the slow.

See your breathing process through the lens of tightness and flow.

Feel a place that’s tight: some common places are the lower back, the upper shoulders, the lower jaw, the forehead and belly. Let them release. Breath that tightness out, as your brain sinks into a hammock with ease.

Feel the fullness and the peace in your breath as we shift into a state of mind, we call flow.

Calm is your superpower. You have the controls. Enjoy each deep and full breath

 

The Skill of Chill: Is your mind pulling you by the leash?

Dog and Boy walking - meditation analogy
Dog and Boy walking - meditation analogy

This is Cloud when Lion was walking him

Last winter our son, Lion took a friend’s dog 🐶 for a walk in Seattle.

The dog, named Cloud, outweighed Lion by about 40 pounds.

Lion loved walking the dog when a squirrel came running by, Cloud chased it. He soon discovered what it’s like to be WALKED BY A DOG rather than the other way around.

When I saw this, it hit me that this is what our emotions do to us. They are big dogs that we should be walking, but instead they are pulling us as they chase squirrels.

Our normal strategy for these out-of-control emotions is denial, ignoring, “stuffing down” or drowning them with distraction many times in the form of red wine.

What we call Chill is usually about unplugging. The yogis call this Tamas.

Most times we don’t realize it, but what we are actually unplugging from is a connection to our Inner Light.

Yoga teaches us that there is a different type of relaxation that is still connected to Light. It’s called Sattva.

It is a calm and peaceful state. It opens the door to the deepest essence of our being.

But finding Sattva in a busy, frenetic world is not easy. Culturally, we are focused on external circumstances like accumulating material things or winning over the approval of others. This makes Sattvic inner peace harder to find and we become like a dog walker getting pulled by the dog. Our minds are pulling us, and it feels like we have no control.

What I’ve learned is that there is a Skill to Chill.

This is what our Commit to Bliss course is all about Nov 14. By strengthening our tools of yoga, meditation, philosophy (perspective,) and embodied physiology, we can step outside of the prison of the mind. We can relax into our greatness.

In case you can’t do the course, my top tip for the SKILL OF CHILL is to focus on the FULLNESS of breath.

Breathing is easy but BREATHING FULLY IS A SKILL. To feel our ribs moving so we can breathe into our potential means that we need to find what is restricting the movement of our breathing muscles.

We breathe fully, we will make peace with thought loops that manifest as holding patterns in our bodies.

Luckily, when we can unblock these places, the breath becomes more enjoyable and we tame the squirrel-chasing dog of our minds.

You’ve got the leash, so guide your mind. 🐕

Breathe out your tightness, breathe into your lightness.

Chill is a Skill.

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The Gunas: The Yogic Energy Map

This fresh and insightful interpretation of a concept that comes from Yogic Philosophy and Ayurveda will offer you an incredibly intelligent and intuitive guide to living your life to its fullest capacity.

The word Guna comes from the word “strand.” Just like a rope is made of several strands there are three strands of life’s energy. That is to say, there are three main qualities of life.

Not knowing the Gunas is like going through life not knowing North, South, East and West. Eoin calls it an “energy map” that helps us master our energy in life.

There are so many energies we could feel, but the Gunas let’s us categorize them at the meta level so we can see the overarching patterns to how life interacts. Like you would file receipts in a file folder, the Gunas are like a filing system for energy.

This talk is just the tip of the iceberg and if you’re interested in these types of conversations, look into our self-study or interactive courses on Teachable.

Is Yoga Medicine? Part 1 of 2

As part of our 500-hour training, I co-teach a course that I called Yoga and Mind Body Medicine. It’s a course I spent years dreaming up. My vision for it was to offer a Western science-based perspective on understanding the gross and subtle benefits of yoga on our body-mind physiology. I enlisted a colleague Dr. Lawrence Cheng—a Harvard trained integrative medicine doctor and yogi who teaches Mind-Body Medicine in medical communities—to present with me. I knew this was going to be groundbreaking.

However, when we listed this course under our Blissology Yoga school’s 500-hr training program on the Yoga Alliance website, we immediately received an email, telling us not to use the words “Medicine” or “Healing” in conjunction with Yoga.

Why is this an issue? Yoga Alliance explains that “the risk comes from suggesting that a yoga teacher or school is diagnosing and/or treating a mental or physical health condition. The words ‘heal’ or ‘healing’ imply this. These claims are within the scope of the practice of medicine and/or licensed health care professions.”

As an alternative to the word healing the phrases “improving health” and “increasing well-being” are  suggested.

This meant we had to get creative with what we called the course on Yoga Alliance’s website. Eventually, we settled on “Yoga and Western Science.

I understand that the medical community does not want people who have graduated from a 200-hour yoga training to describe themselves as healers, or treat someone with a sore back or cancer without the proper medical training nor does anyone want to be legally liable for endorsing someone as capable of healing issues for which they are not qualified.

This graph indicates the increasing amount of scientific research of yoga and meditation in the last decade

Yet, the data about the evidence-based healing benefits of yoga and meditation is increasing with each year. The benefits are so real that it is getting harder to dismiss all yoga as a “quack science.” I would love to see a day in the future when well qualified yogis (and doctors) will be able to claim that yoga is both “healing” and “medicine.”

Will this ever happen? Skeptics do not think so and go to long lengths to tell us why yoga is not healing, or medicine. In his article titled “Yoga Woo“, Stephen Novella, a clinical neurologist at the Yale School of medicine writes, “Yoga is simply exercise plus a lot of ‘Woo.'”

“Yoga, if practiced responsibly, seems to be a reasonably effective form of stretching and exercise. There is insufficient evidence, however, to conclude that it is any superior to any other form of exercise of the same duration and intensity. There are concerns about the safety of yoga, as it often involves extreme stretching or poses that the average person might find not only difficult but physically harmful.”

I’ll share more of my thoughts on this topic in Part 2 of this blog. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you, what is your opinion? Is Yoga Medicine or not? Should the word healing be used by some practitioners of yoga?

Blissology Project: Day 1 – Monday, January 22nd

The Blissology Project has finally launched!

This is Day 1 of our two weeks to Commit to Bliss. The Blissology Project will run from Monday, January 22nd until Sunday, February 4th 2018.

It is all about making happiness a habit and creating an Upward Spiral of positivity in our lives through the 6 Big Easy Bliss Commitments.

Here is the video explaining today’s commitments! 

Here’s a list of Blissology Teachers you can connect with or join our Global Blissology Project event on FB.

Today’s Bliss Commitments are:

Yoga Poses to be included in today’s practices are:

  1. Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
  2. Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
  3. Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)
  • Don’t forget to share any photos on social media using hashtags #blissologyproject + #blissarmy + #upwardspiral

Meditation

Nature Appreciation

  • 20 minute Park Walk – Stroll off the path and go on a journey. Take off your shoes and feel the earth below you. Maybe even hug a tree or two.
  • Don’t forget to share any photos on social media using hashtag #blissologyproject + #natureappreciation 

Food Awareness 

Wave Rider: An Ayurvedic Green Smoothie

Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 organic pear (or green apple, or a peach: sliced or diced
Juice from a freshly squeezed lemon
1/2 organic avocado: sliced or diced
6 – 8 organic spinach leaves or 4 – 5 kale leaves
1 to 2 tsp spirulina
1 heaping tsp extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil, or flax oil, or udos oil
1 cup filtered water
1/4″ chunk of organic ginger (if you need a little more heat, add a bit more to taste)
Optional: a pinch of cardamom powder and some bee pollen to sprinkle on top before drinking.

  • Blend all ingredients together in a high-speed blender.  
  • Add some more water if it is a bit too thick.  
  • Taste for sweetness, if needed, add some raw honey, garnish with bee pollen.
  • Enjoy this deliciousness a little later in the morning, when the sun is high.
  • Don’t forget to share any photos on social media using hashtag #blissologyproject + #highpranafood

Gratitude

  • Begin a Gratitude Journal. Write down 3 things you are grateful for in your life.

Wild Card

  • Compliment a stranger. Tell them something nice to brighten their day!

We’ll start by telling you how awesome you are! You rock!

………………………………………………………….

Don’t forget to Share your experience with the 6 Big Easy Bliss Commitments in the Global Blissology Project event page.

“Happiness is Best when Shared.”

Have fun and enjoy the journey to awakening a deep joy within you!

 

Bali YTT Day 1: The Journey

I’m blogging my journey through Bali during our Blissology YTT! This is always such a transformational journey for everyone including me so I thoughtI would keep a little blog/diary and share it every day. Check in and share in the adventures. Here is the first post.

It took a whopping 35 hours door to door from Santa Cruz, SFO to Denpasar Bali. The plane ride wasn’t so bad largely because of an extra large dose of gratitude I gave myself just to be on the flight! It left at 1:15 A.M. – I decided to take advantage of couch I spotted upstairs by the boarding gate. I set my alarm on my iPhone but didn’t hear it. I woke up with a start and made it to my gate with about a minute or less to spare.

Besides this elation for just making my flight it wasn’t as brutal as I thought it could be for these reasons.  I scored good karma seating with three seats to myself on my first leg from SFO to Hong Kong. I woke up in the morning and did airplane yoga in the 1st row while in front of zombified travellers attempting the inhumane art of sleeping vertically. I also worked on my manual for the trainings especially the  “Commit to Bliss” lifestyle program (I’ll explain more about this in future blogs). I never watch TV but somehow I got addicted to Game of Thrones and loved watching Nicole Kidman’s Queen of the Desert. Normally I am the king at picking movies which are popular but turn out to be brain numbingly stupid but this movie was amazing.

I also did some rocking yoga in Hong Kong and Singapore. It felt amazing to stretch out. My jet lag was kicking in but you have got to keep your chi moving while travelling. Some superflow and handstands did the trick.

I also help long, deep stretches and that felt so felt amazing. I feel like we are over emphasizing standing poses and not floor stretches in the new school yoga I see.  Headphones on, ugly carpet, I dropped into the zone of bliss right overlooking the boarding gates.

After reaching hot, humid Bali not surprisingly the 9pm the traffic was horrible. People who haven’t been here are surprised to hear this. “What traffic on Bali?” Oh yeah, it took about 2 hours to drive 20 miles to our villa.

I passed out around 10:30 after a quick Facetime convo with the fam. I was trying to not think about what time it was on the West Coast but Ananda was leaving for school which meant my biological clock should be saying, “time to wake up.”

Well, I had probably the best jetlagged sleep of all time—I woke up at 4:15 AM and all the sounds of Bali brought me right back. We have been spending about 3 months a year here over the last 9 years or so and I usually wake up at 4:15 – it’s cool for one but there is so much magic then. Once you step outside your villa in Bali, you are treated to open sky. Even the kitchen has no walls. I paused and took in the moon, Jupiter and the Muslim call to Prayer from a local mosque.  I made coffee, unpacked all my clothing, surfboard and props for the YTT making my little bliss army pad ready.  It’s a “Joglo” imported from Java I rented on Airbnb. I love these old houses.

I watched the sky turn bright orange with the first rays of the sun on the huge, nuclear explosion style clouds of Bali, took in the Hindu temple music about 100 meters away. After all these years sounds like cacophony with droning chanting and bell which seem to have no rhyme of reason how the rhythm is created.

Yoga in Bali felt amazing because of the humidity. Hot Yoga? Not required here. Yoga was born in the tropics and I see why.

I followed it up with a surf back in the warm Indian Ocean and lunch with Ellie who lives here and has really helped me organize the upcoming training.  We have 35 people in the course and 5 assistants including Ellie.  I’ve never felt more prepared for a YTT and I am so stoked to share what is about to go down in the next month over here.

Over lunch one of the highlights was when Ellie told me about her trip to East Bali to LINI where we are running our Blissology EcoKarma Coral Restoration project.  They are so appreciative.  The dates are April 14 so watch that day on the Blog for sure.

What was cool is that as a global yoga ambassador for lululemon we can allocate funds to charity of our choices. I allocated some of that funding to LINI and they are training five local girls in the small village of Les where LINI is based. For 3 months, they will train these girls at LINI’s Aquaculture and Training Centre to learn skills that could either help them to earn a living elsewhere or continue to work with LINI. These girls are young mothers in the community who would not otherwise have any way to earn money or learn new skills

More updates tomorrow!