Yoga
for Men
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Menstuff® has compiled information and books on the issue of Yoga for Men. Author, CPA, MBA and yoga instructor Bruce Van Horn founded Yoga for Business, Inc., a company devoted to organizational and individual wellness. He presents a daily Yoga Workout routine that provides a complete physical, mental and spiritual workout. He is the author of Yoga for Prostate Health and Yoga for Men, designed for all levels of experience with yoga.. He has renamed (Asanas) positions in Yoga using terms from business to help you identify with the movement and focus your attention. He is the Chair of the Advisory Board for the Center for Complimentary Medicine at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Bruce also leads a volunteer yoga program designed for cancer patients and healthcare workers at Beth Israel Medical Center. He lives outside New York with his wife Michelle who is a Reiki Master. Bruce has two daughters who have asked that he refrain from headstands at the town pool. His website is www.yogaforbusiness.com If you have any questions, feel free to write: bvanhorn@yogaforbusiness.com

The Benefits of Yoga at Home and the Office
The Body
Bruce's Yoga for Healthy Living Four Step Program for Individual & Organizational Wellness
Daily Yoga Workout
Dysfunction in Organizations
Evaluating Our Belief Systems & Change Management
Food Choices
Four Step Program for Individual & Organizational Wellness
Improving Sexual Preformance with Tantra Yoga
In God We Trust
Health Benefits of Yoga
The Mind
The Spirit
Spiritual Capitalism
Tips for Beginning Yoga Practice
The Workplace Environment

Improving Sexual Preformance with Tantra Yoga


The ancient Yogic tradition of India viewed sexuality as an important path toward spiritual healing and body-mind-spirit integration. Unlike western religious tradition, which viewed sexual desire at odds with spirituality. This had the unfortunate consequence of creating societies that have institutionalized feelings of shame and guilt, to such an extent that people have to become intoxicated with alcohol or drugs in order to feel free to pursue their desire.

Eastern philosophy, on the other hand, celebrated the magnificence of creation and developed a science for understanding how to get the most out of this joyful, healing, spiritual experience.

In Tantra, energy is viewed as the source of life. Sexual energy is divine energy. Men can learn to channel that energy and extend arousal before they ejaculate. In fact trained yogic masters can maintain their state of arousal for upwards of an hour.

There are a few exercises, which along with some small dietary modifications, that can have a profound effect on your sexual performance:

Physical Exercises:

These exercises include breathing, contractions and holding certain positions. The key to really letting go is developing a state of discipline and concentration, so that you can stay in the meditative state throughout the sexual experience.

1) The Moola Bandha; Benefits include improved prostate functioning, and enhanced sexual performance)

Chair: If you are able to, sit upright in your chair. Take a few deep breaths and then on the exhalation, begin to contract your sphincter muscle, this is the muscle that controls the flow of urine. Try ten long inhalations and exhalations and tighten the sphincter on the exhalation.

Floor: Get down on your hands and knees. Imagine a square block between your arms and thighs so that the arms and thighs are perpendicular to the floor and ceiling. On the inhalation, press your chest forward and arch your pelvis back. On the exhalation, make your chest concave and tilt your pelvis forward. At that point engage and lift the anus and prostate muscles. The alternating motion looks like arching waves. Remember to be gentle with your neck. Continue for sixty seconds with four-second inhalations and eight second exhalations.

2) The Plank; (Benefits include improved sexual stamina during intercourse)

Assume a push-up position on the floor supporting the weight of your torso with your hands. Press out through your heels and engage your abdominal muscles so your back doesn’t sway. Over time, attempt to build stamina by holding the position for 30-60 seconds. Follow the pattern of breathing described above in the Moola Bandha Floor Exercise.

3) The Cobra (Benefits include improved sexual stamina during intercourse)

Lying face down on the floor with hands at your sides, inhale and feel the pressure on your hands as you lift your chest forward while keeping your pelvis and the tops of your feet on the floor. Keep your shoulders down, your shoulder blades together, your belly button and lower abdomen on the floor and your legs outstretched. Keep your chest open and lifted. Push away from the floor as you draw your elbows back. Like a cobra open your heart center. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds and follow the breathing described above in the Moola Bandha Floor Exercise.

Psycho-Spiritual Exercises:

Sexual union can be achieved even without orgasm. Many men think that the objective of sex is an orgasm, but healing and spiritual union are the real goals to be achieved. I have developed a meditation on unconditional love, which can make the sexual experience less tense and decrease the pressure to perform.

The most rewarding sexual act is to give completely of yourself to your lover without any expectation of anything in return. The meditation's focus is on “How can I give how can I serve”. When you are focused on how to please you partner, you take the pressure off yourself to perform and the universe orchestrates a synchronistic flow of loving energy, allowing you to escape into the timelessness of creation. By giving completely you receive fully and the experience can only strengthen your love for each other. Here is an exercise, which will help you focus on giving.

If you are able, you should sit upright in a comfortable chair and close your eyes. Start to follow your breath. (Four-second inhalation, eight-second exhalation)

Imagine a green ball of light glowing from your heart chakra warming and expanding your feelings of love.

Recall the feelings of being loved, whether by a parent, a spouse, a child, a pet or anyone who has cared for you or touched you in some way.

Repeat the mantra “Love Light Joy” now with each inhalation and exhalation.

Now begin visualize your lover. Feel the love that this person has given you. Send loving kindness and visualize their heart chakra’s glowing.

Linger here just a moment longer.

And when you are ready you can open your eyes and begin to share in your expanded feelings.

There Are Also a Number of Ways to Take Your Foreplay to Higher Ground. A Fe of Them Are Listed Below:

Healing Massage:

Gentle stroking is an excellent way to focus on giving. Allow your partner the pleasure of receiving and yourself the pleasure of giving. I have found it much more rewarding to be the giver, as the energy comes back to you. You may want to switch off so that you each experience both giving and receiving.

Tactile stimulation is very healing, both physically and spiritually and healing massages are a beneficial part of a couples energy exchanges.

Reiki/Energy Channeling:

Reiki or energy healing practiced before intercourse can also heighten the sexual experience. Reiki is an Eastern healing art whereby one-partner channels spirit to the other. In this way the receiver can enter a deep state of relaxation similar to that experienced after meditation.

Two simple Reiki exercises are recommended. In the first position stand behind your partner and place your hand on their crown chakra. Hold this position for two minutes with the intention of sending loving healing energy. Reverse receiver and giver.

In the second position face each other with your right hand on your partner’s heart chakra and their right hand should be on your heart chakra. Look into each other’s eyes and send loving kindness.

Dietary Changes:

Reducing consumption of meat will lower testosterone levels, aiding in the fight against prostate cancer. In addition studies have shown that meat consumption increases aggressiveness. For maximum benefits to your Yoga practice and meditation I recommend reducing meat consumption and substituting fish, especially fatty fish such as salmon, and soy products.

And of course don’t forget your greens. If you feel good, and you are in good health, your sexual performance will be enhanced.

Accepting and Loving Yourself

Many urologists are convinced that masturbation three or four times per week might help in reducing the number of cases of prostate cancer. Men with diets rich in fat and red meat have elevated their testosterone levels. In addition watching sporting events further increases the levels of adrenaline and testosterone. Men who are not sexually active are at higher risk for developing prostate cancer due to the build up of testosterone and adrenaline. Therefore it is a healthy practice that could help save lives. In addition a visit to the massage therapist would also be advisable as tactile stimulation is very healing.

It has also been shown that for both men and women, tactile stimulation can be healing. So sex is not only good for your relationship but also good for your health and a vehicle to commune at a higher spiritual level.

Evaluating Our Belief Systems & Change Management


Our attitudes and belief systems reveal a great deal about our social upbringing and values. Yoga encourages us to re-evaluate our belief systems and attempt to discover which attitudes are not serving our greater good. It involves correcting attitudes that are stress producing and changing habits that manifest stress in your life.

A yogi believes in constant change and cycles of life. If we could start to view our role as co creators of our world and continue to fulfill this role, than embracing change and letting go of short-term focus are possible to achieve. These concepts cannot be assimilated by mere contemplation or an intellectual exercise. Only direct experiential spiritual practices such as meditation can convey these truths.

Change Management

I was crossing the G.W. Bridge coming into New York one day this past spring. Commuters waiting on a tollbooth clerk blocked me from the Ezpass lane. I noticed that the clerk wasn’t overly grateful that the motorist had chosen her over the competing technology. I began to think of the clients/customers that had held me back from progressing and at that moment I was really able to empathize with her. I had been there myself, locked into serving clients/customers that were resisting change and uncertain of my future.

How we can overcome resistance to change? I believe that technology can help us to outsource repetitive tasks and refocus on creative business building.

I first became involved with technology or lack thereof about 18 years ago. At the time, I had just graduated and was armed with my M.B.A. and CPA and was expecting to become a small business consultant. I soon became aware that I was going to be a financial janitor instead.

During my first day I was horrified to find the secretarial staff pasting together large spreadsheets of data. They spent a whole day creating a consolidated financial statement.

And so I decided on my first day in accounting that I would like to play a part in changing the nature of the profession.

What I had done in my practice is to view each of my clients/customer from a Business-plan prospective. That is I took a big picture view of what my responsibility was in helping the client in building their business. This helped me think through the tasks that need to be done in order to accomplish long-term goals. By thinking in a Business-plan prospective you can develop new and potentially expansive business models in which you can participate.

As a CPA, I made a transition successfully incubating a number of technology internet companies through my own client/customer base. Technology now offers us the opportunity to automate traditional services. We need to become the “knowledge workers” that the market is demanding.

How can we make an effective transition? What skills are necessary?

I would like to share with you some of my insights from my own transformation that can help you chart a more appropriate course for you firm as we enter the new millennium.

Effective change management requires:

  • Overcoming resistance to change
  • Investing time to learn new skills
  • Application of technology
  • Viewing problems as opportunities
  • Developing entrepreneurial skills

Does Any of This Sound Familiar?

You’re spending too much time administering services for your clients/customers. Due to the commodity nature of the services you must price those services at market value and your profitability is further reduced because your clients/customers may be slow to pay. You sometimes take on clients/customers that don’t pay or don’t follow your advice or both. You need to be constantly hiring staff because of turnover and poor quality. Since the work you perform is not stimulating, talented individuals leave quickly. You are concerned that technology may reduce or eliminate some of your sources or revenue. You find it difficult to manage technology, marketing, and the requirements of your industry.

We all want to break away from the role of “janitor” and move toward “entrepreneur”. The former involves the past the latter involves the future. Here are some tools you can use in moving your focus forward.

In any discussion that deals with implementing technology, overcoming the resistance to change represents the greatest obstacle. Ask the drivers who insist on waiting on line to visit a tollbooth clerk.

The fear of change results in inertia. If we can get beyond our fears, we can learn to accept a higher degree of uncertainty and risk.

By accepting uncertainty in a given situation, we open ourselves to a life of constant change. The only certainty is that things are going to change. For example, all business organizations must constantly reinvent themselves for if they stagnate they perish. If you review the top ten corporations on a fortune 500 list in 1980 and compare it to those in the year 2000, what do you think has happened? The companies at the top of the list in 1980 are no longer the leaders in 2000.

Critics argue that we need to be secure and reduce risk. Our response is to say that life is about change. Change is more real than security (ask the companies that used to be top on the list). The sooner you can learn to adopt and accept uncertainty and change, the more secure you will feel and the more willing you will be to embrace technological solutions.

How do we free up time to make changes in our business/personal life? 

To become the “knowledge workers” that Bill Gates refers to in his latest book requires that we make an investment in ourselves. It means letting go of customers or clients that will not serve our long-term interests. Often times it is scary to let go of work that is paying our bills, but this is exactly what I did in the eighties when inexpensive software flooded the market. Although pushing our clients to embrace technology meant the loss of certain services, those of us that embraced the change were able to offer value added services. The best way to free up time is to always have an inventory of time dedicated to long-term planning. What I do is to always allocate ten percent of my revenues for new business development and technology. By not living above one’s means and spending very prudently, one has the freedom to pursue opportunities as they arise. Running faster on the treadmill is not the answer and only will make one’s transition more difficult to deal with later. We are a gifted life form.

A human being means not being a human doer but a cocreator. Our being involves honoring creation.

One way to begin freeing up time is to “dump the dogs”. You know who they are. They’re the ones who demand the most, but want to pay the least. You may know some family members and acquaintances that fall into that category.

These types of clients/customers burden your business and drain your energy. It is a very liberating and empowering feeling to tell a customer or client “You know Jim, you don’t really trust me because …, and you don’t respect me because you haven’t paid your bill since …. Since trust and respect are the basis of a relationship and we have neither, how can we continue to do business? You begin to own your power; you are pulling the strings now. Owning your power means not living above your means and giving yourself the breathing room to step away for unproductive relationships.

When you follow this suggestion I have noticed that several things can happen:

1) You find out that the client/customer has a brain tumor. This is not a joke, it really happened to me. This starts a dialogue where you are able to understand what is really going on with the client/customer. In my case the dialogue led to a better understanding and the client survived her medical ordeal and became an appreciative responsive paying client.

2) The client/customer apologizes for his behavior and tells you that he is in therapy addressing this issue, which has prevented him from having successful relationships with women. The client/customer becomes your best client/customer. You double his billings, he never complains and his payments are prompt.

3) The client/customer is very hurt by your accusations and tries to make you feel responsible. You will definitely lose these clients and for good reason be glad that they are gone. When you set out to “dump the dogs, you will probably find that instead of losing 10% of your clients/customers you actually only lose 5% and the other 5% are now paying twice what they were paying before. It is called owning your own power, and it a very helpful way to begin breaking down the barriers and belief systems you have constructed which may no longer be serving your best interest.

“Dumping the dogs” might also mean letting go of employees who do not share your vision. These employees and that of society might be better served if they were redirected to another path. This can be accomplished in a loving and compassionate manner as will be described later in the section on “Bringing Love into the Workplace”.

When should we use new technology?

  • When similar businesses show a trend towards particular technology trends (e.g. payroll applications)
  • When tasks present themselves as repetitious and structured; when rules can be applied to them
  • When geo-graphics can be eliminated as leading factor in service provision (e.g. the global appeal of the Web)
  • When communications allow someone else to do something more effectively than you can thus freeing you to focus on what you are good at (e.g. outsourcing via the Web) 
  • When the economics make sense. (e.g. Move to browse based systems rather than expensive in-house technical infrastructure)

We have to start owning our own power and loving ourselves. The biggest obstacle is the fear that holds you back. Maybe you can’t trust the End Run Company, perhaps they are holding you back from progressing in your career. In that case you have a decision to make. The most progressive companies will reward employees that come up with solutions to improve efficiency. The rewards will be not to let go of those employees but put them in a position of even greater authority somewhere else in the organization. These organizations will survive and thrive. These are the organizations you should be a part of.

Here is a tool you might want to try to help you confront your fears.

In my Yoga for Business program I have developed a position called “A Firm Footing in a Changing Marketplace”. Many of the positions in yoga are metaphors for a state of mind. In one of the exercises you completed earlier, you were asked to balance on one foot. If you lost your balance you caught yourself with the other foot. And then switched feet.

That is why it is important for all of us to be in balance. We need to be able to support each other.

This is called the “Tree Pose” and at the end of the CD is the Tree Meditation, which you can use to feel more balanced and secure in times of change.

This exercise, if practiced daily, will help you to incorporate the belief that you can be flexible to changes in your environment and you will always land on your feet. This exercise is also useful in balancing left and right brain functions, a topic that will be addressed shortly.

What are some strategies for effective change management?

Problems are opportunities: Effective business development requires a focus on problem solving and identifying solutions to client problems. This requires thinking “outside of the box”.

Often time’s solutions include applying technology in a new innovative way to a process. The Internet is one such tool that can improve business functions, expand the marketplace for goods and services, and improve customer service.

Devote attention to solving problems in your own business and bring that understanding to your client’s businesses. Often times before I meet with an employee I will do a short meditation focused on how can I help this person achieve his or her goals and evolve their skills. I also engage in the same type of mental exercise before I meet with clients. Focus on really listening to the clients and discovering what their goals and interests are; let go of the need to have a predetermined solution. For prospective clients I let go of the need to close a sale and focus instead on trying to provide what the client needs. Clients and prospective clients can sense when you are really interested in helping them solve problems and when you are focused on selling. In this way your relationships can extend beyond the product life cycle and you can develop creative responses to clients needs, which may become new product offerings.

Note: At the end of the CD is a meditation called the “loving kindness meditation”. This exercise will help you become more effective in dealing with employees and customers.

Remember to stay focused on the solution and the process. If you are only focused on the outcome or an exit strategy, you are not in the process. However if you remain committed and focused on the solution, the desired outcome will evolve.

Develop a broad mission statement with a number of specific goals to be accomplished. This will help the client stay focused when considering new projects or spending plans. I had the opportunity to work with a Russian technology client in building the largest portal in Russia. Our mission was to use technology to allow Russians to participate in the global economy through a portal with a distinctive and genuine Russian focus. Some of our goals were to allow Russian global communication through our sophisticated email service (mail.ru) allowing Russian businesses to purchase goods and services at market prices. We also wanted to allow technology workers to outsource their services, and to help build an e-commerce infrastructure in Russia. Staying focused on these “big picture goals” helped us avoid pursuing activities that were motivated by an exit strategy.

Being focused on the solution means being prepared to change direction at and moment and not mean being rigidly attached to the trail. Sometimes there are obstacles in our way. We can find alternative pathways as long as the summit of the mountain remains our goal. Forcing solutions on problems will always create new problems somewhere down the road.

There are a number of fatal errors that companies sometimes make such as: 

  • Trying to build the technology infrastructure when an outsource solution would do.
  • Choosing Strategic Partners that do no share your vision. Such partners can compromise your business model. Focus on market share and not the bottom line. The recent technology crash has put an end to the most flagrant abuses.
  • Using accounting gimmickry to inflate stock value to lower the cost of capital. Always choose the high road in reporting to investors and interested parties even when competitors are inflating their books. Ultimately such tactics will backfire crippling employee morale and precipitating financial crises.
  • Let go of the need to control all processes in the production distribution chain. Choose what you are best at and outsource solutions to competent parties.

Successful entrepreneurs are persistent and don’t look on obstacles as failure. They keep trying different approaches until they are successful. Nature uses the same principles in evolution. If nature hadn’t been persistent, we wouldn’t be here.

How can we develop entrepreneurial skills?

In the company of the future we will all need to be entrepreneurs. This will require us to be willing to both create and destroy. This is what keeps your body in equilibrium. Part of you is dying and another part is being born.

The dictionary defines an entrepreneur as someone who organizes, operates and assumes the risk for a business enterprise. Most business people have no problem with organizing and operating but have a general aversion to risk. We fear change. When we can accept change as a constant we can feel more comfortable stepping into a world of uncertainty. Taking that step requires a leap faith, but beyond the doorway are limitless possibilities.

Leonardo DaVinci, one of the most amazing men to ever live, who was not only was a great artist but also solved the problems of aeronautical engineering hundreds of years ago. When he was asked what the key to his success was he gave the following response;

  • I understand the Art of Science (right-brain thinking).
  • I understand the Science of Art (left-brain thinking).
  • I use all my senses when I create.
  • I understand my purpose in life.

Business people are especially focused on left-brain, which is the area of the mind that focuses on technical and analytical thinking. The tree pose discussed earlier is an excellent exercise for developing these balancing skills.

We each have a bias for using one of our senses and subjugating the rest. We need to bring the rest of our senses into the equation and trust our gut reactions. I use all my assets. I spend time in silence each day. Through mediation and focused concentration we can improve our synchronicity: meet the right people at the right time, be prepared when opportunity presents itself, and find what we are here to do.

If a client or customer of yours was running a business, and not fully utilizing their assets they would probably go out of business. As a concerned business associate you would make sure they leveraged all their assets to achieve their business goals.

Many of us are not using all our potential; we are running on one brain hemisphere and only using one or two senses. We rarely if ever engage in quiet contemplative thoughts. It is important to consider all the technologies that will alleviate you from certain mundane chores. The time freed up can be re-allocated to creative business building. You will be very empowered by upgrading your skill and repositioning yourself for success in the new economy.

But above all imagine how secure you can feel knowing that you are staying ahead of the changing marketplace. By embracing technology you will remain a competitive and vital force in your industry.

Spiritual Capitalism


The concept of spiritual capitalism is demonstrated by effective business organizations, which maximize benefits for the organization, their customers and the community as a whole. This requires a long-term focus, which is difficult to achieve in many public companies that are driven by short term profitability reporting.

If all our attention and focus is on serving our customers than long-term share price maximization will be achieved.

The emphasis on short-term profitability can hurt organizations in numerous ways such as:

  • Developing products or processes that may be flawed, dangerous and not ready for public use or consumption.
  • Using fear to obtain some short-term benefit or result.
  • Continuing to do business with countries that do not respect their citizens or use slave labor.
  • Preparing misleading financial statements.
  • Resisting change.
  • Focusing on tax mitigation as opposed to economic maximization

For capitalism to be most effective we need to move away from the focus on short-term profitability and refocus on fundamental business building. Decisions must be made using the “How can I serve, how can I help” yardstick. We can start to apply these concepts at the individual level of the manager and employee and develop a code of ethics that can be applied for organizational decision-making.

If our form of capitalism evolved to this level, then we could avoid activist governmental regulation and the costs associated therewith. Governmental regulation is often needed when capitalism is deprived of spirituality. Unfortunately government regulation creates yet another bureaucracy with its related inefficiencies.

In addition to Government regulation, there is the potential for labor union organization. When businesses don’t respect their employees and treat them fairly, a union will step in. Once again another bureaucracy seizes power and will further burden the efficient functioning of the organization.

Furthermore litigation industries are springing up to compensate victims of corporate greed. This litigation and the industry it has formed have had a corrosive effect on our political and social institutions.

The model of spiritual capitalism suggests that market distortions such as the third party payer system in the healthcare industry, leads to inefficiency. In the healthcare industry, pharmaceutical companies have exploited the market distortions by only focusing on one narrow segment of the healthcare solution to the exclusion of all others. Such an approach can only keep increasing costs. There is also a legitimate concern that the industry may prevent total solutions from emerging as that might jeopardize their ongoing business model of providing continuing treatment. Only by empowering the ultimate consumer, elevating patient’s needs over the company ’s finances, and integrating the Body-Mind-Spirit approach can we effectively solve our healthcare dilemma.

The healthcare industry is obsessed with defeating death. If we could learn to accept death we could make more humane decisions on costly and invasive life sustaining procedures. In Yoga we learn to become comfortable with the transition that is referred to as death by going into the meditative state.

Once there, we learn that it isn’t all that bad, in fact its quite nice.

Once our fear of death has been challenged and defeated, the rest of the fears start to fall by the wayside. The irony is that by preparing to die, we can live our lives more fully. Just as we prepare for life with education we should prepare for our transition with meditation.

Other industries such as Fast food, Beer and Wine and Entertainment prey upon our addictive impulses. These companies not only generate negative Karma but they set themselves up for potentially costly litigation. If these companies would invest more in encouraging their consumers to use their products responsibly and offer alternatives to the unhealthy fare, it could be a win-win situation for everyone. The key is to understand what the consumer is actually buying and offer complimentary products.

The laws of nature are much more efficient and effective than the laws of man. Whenever possible we should design systems that mirror the brilliance of nature. Sometimes this requires a leap of faith or change in on our belief systems, which is sometimes easier said than done.

Bruce’s Poem:

Porker’s on the Hill

Porkers on the hill
Chewing the fat 

Give em a handful
They ask for a VAT 

Promise to diet but they never do
To busy pick pocketing me an you

And each year the tax code expands
Bureaucrats swell to meet the demands 

On April 15th of next year
You eyes will water your throat you’ll clear

But your cries of despair will never be heard
Congress just enacted Tax Simplification the Third

When we try to micromanage the behavior of individuals by creating a complex tax code we create inefficiencies. Companies which focus on reducing taxes by building up debt is just one of the problems. The tax advantage of capital gains over dividends is another. By what divine edict do we discriminate? It should not be left to men to make these judgments but to the market.

Our accounting system needs to be updated to reflect the realities of the new economy. The focus needs to move away from the past and toward the present and future. A system should be developed to be simple and informative. Independent regulatory boards that are beholden to special interests will not be able to do the job. A unified independent approach is required and the government may have to step in. If we do not take action we risk losing investor confidence and the integrity and stability of our capitalistic model could be in jeopardy. The loyalty of the CPA firm will never be with the shareholders as long as management is paying the fees. The system must be rebuilt.

As important as developing an adequate model of financial reporting, is instilling certain ethics in our financial and corporate professionals.

I suggest a Spiritual Accounting Index that reflects:

1) Human Resource Value
2) Confusion and Complexity of Financial Statements
3) Conflict of Interest Index

Developing these will give investors an enlightened approach to stock purchasing and analysis.

The key to restoring confidence in our shaky financial markets is to return to principled business practice. The concepts of Yoga for Business advocate a spiritual approach to service as the ultimate goal and mission of the organization. Our current business leaders need to begin implementing change at the highest level of the organizations including the Board of Directors and the Top Executives. Shareholder groups are currently demanding change and the Yoga for Business approach should be part of the restructured business model.

In the next chapter we will discuss how to evaluate whether our belief systems are helpful in promoting positive changes in our organizations.

The Workplace Environment


The pace of change in corporate America has quickened due to the revolution in information and communications technology. In addition, the pace of consolidation of companies within industries has increased. This is causing tremendous turbulence and upheaval in the American corporate workplace. 

Change in an organization starts at the individual level. The human resource departments at many companies devote substantial resources to developing and retaining talent. Unfortunately many of the initiatives that are presented are doomed to failure. This is because the leadership of the organization has not embraced the belief systems, which the human resource department is promoting. The resulting cynicism and mistrust impairs productivity and morale. Furthermore, the individual differences among employees are not honored in this, “One Size Fits All Approach” to employee motivation and change management.

The key to success is to help employees understand who they are, and what are their strengths. Once defined, we can begin to develop a program that motivates the individual, and design tools to help employees enjoy the process of change and growth.

For example, consider the exercise of meditation to promote a clear mind. Annie is very analytical. She might be best suited for a guided visualization that talks to her thinking mind. A physically active man such as Oscar might need program that lets him transmute his anger such as Power Yoga. Manny who tends to fall asleep when sitting still may be drawn to Sufi dancing or chanting or a walking meditation.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Psychotherapists Enter the Workplace to Aid Dysfunctional Staffs”, highlights this new trend in corporate America as management consultants trained as psychotherapists are making their way into corporate offices. According to the article, “people’s ambitions, dreams, and egos are all involved in work, yet they are supposed to act as if none of this affects their own or their company’s performance. The result is a lot of unacknowledged emotional static that hurts productivity.”

The Yoga for Business Philosophy takes the analysis one step further by trying to understand the spiritual significance of why we are in each other’ s lives and what we are here to learn from the experience. We may even go so far as to advocate a “Spiritual Termination,” which if done with love and compassion can be an opportunity for both the company and the employee to grow.

A case study has just been presented using three characters; Manny Problemas from Marketing, Oscar Fodder from Operations, and Annie Thracks from Accounting. We have followed the experiences of these three hapless employees as their Human Resource department embarked on yet another motivational program. The “Yoga for Business” consultants have been called in to help the End Run Company Improve Performance.

While the program is well designed and powerful, we ask the question…  

”Can effective change occur if top management doesn’t practice what it preaches?”:

1. It is possible that once a belief system reaches a critical mass, change will occur. 

2. Our goal is to empower the workforce with skills that will not only improve the company’s bottom line, but can enhance personal lives.

3. Consequently there will be a groundswell of support for change in corporate stewardship.

The characters presented have certain archetypal characteristics based upon the ancient science of Ayurveda. In the appendix specific details of the characteristics, both physical, emotional and financial, that correspond to each character, are listed. Only by honoring the differences that make us unique can we develop a motivational program that speaks to the entire workforce. You may find that your personality spans a number of these characters or perhaps you can identify strongly with just one.

Additional tools that may be lacking in your belief systems will be presented and you will be asked to consider expanding your horizon. By demonstrating dysfunctional responses using humor you may feel less threatened when certain belief systems are challenged. Try to be open to consider change in a more objective manner.

The dysfunction in companies creates injury and harm to employees and ultimately to the customers who are not being served effectively.

Dysfunction occurs due to management’s embrace of the following leadership traits: autocratic, egotistical, and obsessive. If the problems are not addressed and corrected the very survival of the organization could be in jeopardy.

As a CPA, MBA and Yoga Instructor, I’ve always lectured clients on how to maximize the use of their assets to be competitive. In most companies, the greatest asset is their human capital. However, our current financial accounting models ignore this most important element of a business. The result is that we have not devoted adequate resources to our employees and the valuation of our companies has been distorted.

Often times, as in the case of the End Run company, more emphasis is placed on creating attractive financial statements than on substantial and fundamental reform of the organization. In such cases the use of accounting fiction and accounting creativity runs counter to the values we hold dearly such as trust and honesty. Sometimes this action is born of desperation such as when the vision of the company is not coming to fruition. Instead of altering the vision and accepting changing market conditions, the executives try to rewrite the rules. This creates an irreconcilable conflict for principled employees and sets the stage for moral decay. The decline in values increases the risk of employees and executives profiting personally and putting themselves ahead of other employees, shareholders and the mission of the organization. The end result is a downward spiral. Even if all of the other Yogic principles are followed, without integrity, the organization cannot survive.

By combining what I’ve learned about Yoga and business, I’ve developed a program that has integrated the two and demystified this ancient eastern philosophy. The concepts of Yoga and business are congruent. This is because they are both based upon an organic interpretation of the “organization” and “human being” as changing and not static. The only certainty is change and the business organizations that understand these principles have the greatest longevity.

If it were not for evolution, we would not be here. Most change is gradual; however some change has been revolutionary such as the rise of mammals after the extinction of the dinosaurs by a catastrophic asteroid collision. For business and society gradual change is preferable and more stable.

By highlighting the dysfunction in a humorous manner and then presenting alternatives, we honor the pain being experienced in the workforce. By approaching conflict from this perspective we can connect at a deeper level of understanding.

Today there is a growing skepticism towards motivational personalities and the corporate culture. By poking fun at ourselves we wanted to expose our vulnerability and humanity. We don't propose a magic cure, but we are offering a number of tools you can use to reclaim your power, but in a light hearted and loving way. 

Four Step Program for Individual & Organizational Wellness


Step One: Discovering the Inner Comic

How is everyone tonight?

Has anyone ever made a career change?

I had this mid life crises and I went from being a Creative CPA to a yoga instructor/author/ comedian wannabe. 

My friends would say, “Why can’t you be like a normal person and get a mistress or a sportscar. Better yet buy a really expensive house with a huge mortgage that will get your mind focused.” 

Now not only can’t I afford a mistress, but I can’t even make the monthly payments on the station wagon. I can’t even get my old job back at Anderson all the clients are gone. You see I got the downsizing blues. 

Moral of the Story: We can’t live life without experiencing some form of pain; it is part of the human experience. Pain gives meaning to our life’s journey and can lead us back to the path of growth and the pursuit of our life’s purpose. Humor can help us to honor the pain and acknowledge it. Unfortunately, most of us repress our pain and emotions, anesthetizing ourselves with addictions such as alcohol, drugs, food, nicotine, sex, money, material possessions, work, relationships, etc. In my own life I went through a series of addictions.

You name the addiction…I had it. In fact, I was even addicted to my therapist.

Many psychiatrists, psychologists and pharmaceutical companies think we should all be taking daily doses of Prozac; but again, this is just another addiction causing the power to be taken from you. What we really need is to get in touch with our true feelings, which is what the addiction is preventing us from doing in the first place. Yoga practice allows us to evaluate our emotions and feelings from a balanced, objective place.

Overcoming our addictions is one of the spiritual lessons we come to experience in this life. Will we have the courage to admit that we have these addictions, and will we have the courage to take the action necessary? 

Many of us never get the courage to face our addictions and we continue to blame others for our failings. This pattern of behavior was taught to us in early childhood. We learned by fear that if we placed the blame on others we could escape punishment.

I recall a time when I was five years old. I had colored the solar system on the living-room wall in crayon. When my mother asked me who did it, I told her that it was my one-year-old sister. When my mother began to praise my sister’s genius, I quickly admitted that it was my creation. I was given a bucket and a sponge and I remember scrubbing all day long.

Many parents are quick to react to such behavior with a physical and verbal assault. This conditions the child to avoid accepting responsibility. The results are that we have organizations full of individual who have been socialized to lie and blame others for their shortcomings. Our legal, healthcare, and educational systems have further contributed to removing the burden of personal responsibility to the detriment of the individual and society as a whole.

I have found that many people facing life-challenging illnesses are willing to accept responsibility for their actions and dispense with the denial process because it is obviously no longer serving their best interests. In working as a yoga therapist with cancer patients, I have found it very important to begin to unlock the energy blockages in the body because all of our experiences get manifested in our physiology. Therefore, I consider the use of humor to be the first step for healing and healthy living. So as a first exercise construct your own comedy act. You may want to take a few painful experiences from your work life and exaggerate them. Humor is often about creating absurdity out of the stuff of everyday life. Sometimes our lives are absurd. In these cases you will not have to be as creative. I have provided about half a page for your act. Please fill in your name. I suggest you may want to share your act with a friend or co-worker. Sharing can be especially healing because it allows us to better understand each other’s challenges and past journey. However, do not feel obligated to share. We also will be running a contest for the best Inner Comic. Please send your submissions to www.yogaforbusiness.com. 

_______________’s Comedy Act:

Your Name

You know if my life were a movie it would be called_________________________(visit the www.fandango.com site under Hot Movies and choose from a genre). Your life may fall into one of these categories; Action, Comedy, Drama, Suspense, Romance, Family, Sci-fi or Art House. Once you have chosen your category, you can search through an alphabetical listing of movies in your category to find the one that best fits your life. 

(Go ahead and complain like my Jewish Grandmother) Not only do I have a

_____________________ but a _____________________and a _________ ___________________________________ and a ____________________ _________________________________

(Now write your story. Exaggerate and be absurd with your own faults as well as others in your life.) Use additional paper if needed. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

(Now see if you can touch upon the more painful experiences with humor)_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

(End by telling what the sequel to your movie will be called)______________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

Step Two: Discovering the Inner Artist

Our artist has illustrated three characters I have created; Annie, Manny and Oscar based upon certain archetype characteristics. The characters perform the Yoga positions that are supposed to focus their minds on productive thoughts while the company’s executives violate all of the principles they are teaching in the class. I use the characters to honor the difficulties you may encounter as well as to lighten up the subject matter. This should be fun and lighthearted not heavy and painful. The characters allow us to explore some of our traits and behaviors that are similar and possibly uncover some of the limitations we impose on ourselves.

Expressing ourselves through art has also been part of the human experience for tens of thousands of years.

With the assistance of our talented artist, I have created illustrations, in our case study, of some painful experiences faces by our three characters; Annie, Manny and Oscar.

On the right sidebar I would like you to honor your experience by creating an illustration. Please try not to be judgmental of your artistic ability. Just focus on re-creating the painful experience and add absurdity to create some space between you and the experience.

Once the pain has been uncovered, the more difficult process of forgiveness can begin. Through Yoga and exercises in detachment you can start to experience your life from a place of greater understanding and tolerance.

In this way you can create the space to begin to understand the challenges and limitations of those who may have hurt you in the past. You may also be able to begin looking at how you may be contributing to the melodrama in your life and how you can avoid it in the future.

Step Three: Discovering Your Inner Musician 

There is an underlying vibration throughout the Universe that dates back to the original “Big Bang” some 8-12 billion years ago. There is also a vibration that runs through our physiology that is related to our heartbeat and breathing. Even our thoughts have a sound associated with them.

Therefore, everything has its own theme music, no matter how silent it appears.

When our thoughts are out of kilter they throw off our normally relaxed patterns of breathing, and heartbeat.

Our talented Musician, Michael DiGirolamo, has created a musical combination for the meditations in the accompanying CD that will help you move from patterns of thought that tend to disrupt the system, to patterns of thought that lead to relaxation, focus and healing. We have included a Tree Meditation and a Loving Kindness Meditation. The Tree Meditation focuses on balance and the Loving Kindness Meditation focuses on service. You may want to use these meditations in the morning to maintain a sense of balance during the day.

As an exercise in breathing and in vibration awareness, I suggest you purchase a basic c chord harmonica. The harmonica is a great instrument because we can make sounds both on the inhalation and exhalation. What I suggest is that you work toward a four second inhalation and an eight second exhalation. This is a very healing interval. By getting six breaths per minute you are training your entire physiology to slow down and assume a healthier beat and rhythm.

To make the exercise even more interesting, you can vary your position on the harmonica using higher notes and lower notes. You can even shake the harmonica in your mouth to create interesting sounds.

I recommend practicing the musical exercise at least five minutes a day until you feel comfortable with breathing intervals. Or feel free to continue to use the harmonica. It is a wonderful instrument, which I have found to be very healin

Step Four: Loving Your Self

While it is true that as human beings we all need to experience some pain on our journey, there comes a point in time when we no longer need to inflict suffering upon ourselves. Self-love involves understanding that you are complete and whole and not lacking in any regard. You are a microcosm of the universe. A hologram of creation is inside each of us. We all have great power, but we have been afraid to uncover it. The uncovering takes great courage because what I am asking you to do is to step into the silence. This involves tuning out the problems of the world we ultimately wish to solve. Only by creating this distance can you be effective.

In music, the silence gives the notes meaning. In your life, the silence can do the same. To be effective you must make a commitment now to yourself and your well being to immerse yourself fully in this program. Allocate the time required, which is about an hour each day. I suggest you try the program for a month. I am confident that once you experience the positive changes, you will make it a lifelong pursuit and wonder how you ever survived without it.

There are many forces that don’t want you to uncover your inner power because it will mean that they will lose power over you. Some of the greatest offenders are family members, organized religion, the healthcare industry, business organizations, the media and the government. Unlocking your personal power is one of the great gifts of Yoga practice.

Yoga practice requires discipline, and time. It is so much easier to embark on this path when we have the time and our health is good. Yet we often do not, and wait for a crises or breakdown before we take action. The key to developing the discipline is to practice self-love. You have to love yourself enough to give yourself this time.

In God We Trust


Restoring Faith in Our Institutions Means Restoring Faith in Ourselves In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Invisible Hand Works Because of Invisible Handshake”, trust was considered the pillar in upholding our capitalist system. It is no accident that the founders of our country included these words on our currency. However trust can only be effective when we live our lives in service to a higher authority. The concept of spiritual capitalism is demonstrated by effective business organizations, which maximize benefits for their customers, their company and the community as a whole. This requires a long-term focus, which is difficult to achieve in many public companies that are driven by short term profitability reporting.

If all our attention and focus is on serving our customers then long-term share price maximization can be achieved. For capitalism to be most effective we need to move away from the focus on short-term profitability and refocus on fundamental business building. Decisions must be made using the “How can I serve, how can I help” yardstick. We can start to apply these concepts at the individual level of the manager and employee and develop a code of ethics that can be applied for organizational decision-making.

If our form of capitalism evolved to this level, then we could avoid activist governmental regulation and the costs associated therewith. Governmental regulation is often needed when capitalism is deprived of spirituality. Unfortunately government regulation creates yet another bureaucracy with its related inefficiencies.

In industries such and the accounting industry and the healthcare industry, we need to redesign the system so that the service provider's interest is aligned with that of the customer. In the healthcare industry the third party payer system is ruining the quality of care and in the accounting industry the interest of the auditors are not in line with their customers, the investors because they are being paid by industry...Well DUH. Who thought up this one anyway?

The laws of nature are much more efficient and effective than the laws of man. Whenever possible we should design systems that mirror the brilliance of nature. Sometimes this requires a leap of faith or change in on our belief systems.

No matter how sophisticated the systems we devise, those with ill intent can find a way to defeat such systems. A better approach would be to change the belief systems of those who are gaming the system.

Currently our belief systems have embraced Materialism over Spiritualism and the result has been a series of plagues; healthcare, terrorism, accounting scandals, religious scandals and violence, wildlife mismanagement, litigation, etc.

The founders of our country were very wealthy men. They were willing to give up all their wealth and material possessions, even their lives, for a principle.

Are we honoring their spirit and sacrifice when we do business with countries that violate basic human rights because of the economic consequences? When we start to sacrifice our values where does it end? In the playground? In the doctor’s office? In our companies? In the Church? Or in the oval office?

The question is who is your Lord? Who is your master? Who are you serving? Money? Cars? Impressing Neighbors? Or the true Spirit?

We have made our celebrities into kings and queens, and these unhappy rulers retain power by peddling materialism to further their own gain. Our corporate organizations resemble the courts of the feudal era; the only thing we lack is the jester. Perhaps all corporations should hire a chief humor officer.

Currently the engine of capitalism is pulled by material consumption and fear-based motivation. While we have been very productive we have also have produced a nation of obesity and chronic disease, while we continue to spend more and more on healthcare.

The shift away from materialism toward personal freedom will not be easy. There will be many in government, business, religious institutions and the media that will fight against it because they will lose power over us. Ultimately it is up to all of us to start to own our own power and develop a relationship with God or spirit, which needs to be part of our every day lives. The source of life I tap into is forgiving, loving non-judgmental and compassionate. Perhaps if the right wing would be willing to empower the individual with direct communion with the divine, the left wing could become more comfortable with public expressions of spirituality.

In the beginning I was a voice in the wilderness, a mild mannered CPA working for Anderson on the Enron account who had a midlife crises and morphed into a Yoga Guru/Author because my wife wouldn't let me have an affair or purchase a sports car. I should have just bought an expensive house, that would have kept my mind focused. But in all seriousness, I didn’t work for Anderson but I had similar experiences in the corporate world, which led me down this path including a manager committing suicide and the untimely death of my father.

In yoga we believe that all suffering is self-created. Like Dr. Bernie Siegel I have done a great deal of work with cancer patients. We have learned that people facing life-challenging illnesses are more likely to start facing the denial process and more willing to change the belief systems, which are no longer serving them. We use these same principles to help companies that are starting to address market-challenging situations.

For the individual the greatest challenge is to face our mortality. Meditation helps us to overcome this fear as the meditative process exposes the truth. Once this fear crumbles the rest fall by the wayside and fundamental change can occur.

So if you are interested in changing our institutions, the first place to start is the self by going within. Take a healing interval by following your breath and focusing on how to change your life and how we can change the world. Then we can begin to send a message to those in power who are running our institutions.

The technology of the Internet can empower us to challenge the established order. One way to do this is to send this to the people you know that are in need of empowerment, and then suggest they do the same with others. We all have so much power, but we have been afraid to use it. It's time to stop being afraid. It's time we start owning our own power and helping others own theirs.

The Spirit


Spiritual Development

Many people often ask how we can believe in an intelligent Universe when our history is littered with instances of inequity, and strife. When we experience these horrible events it is understandable that we may begin to question the randomness of the universe. This illusion can be pierced through Yoga and spiritual practice.

Almost every group of peoples at one time or another has been a victim of oppression. The Holocaust is viewed as a dreadful event in the annals of human history, in which twelve million souls perished but what if those souls were self sacrificed in order to raise the general level of consciousness of humanity? Perhaps these souls were also addressing some of their own Karma in the process.

This was a horrific event; did it succeed in raising the awareness of the danger of hate and violence? Have we evolved into a more peaceful world order as a result of these sacrifices?

After September 11, it may seem as f we have taken some steps backward.

Being in a state of elevated consciousness allows us to recognize that the departed souls helped to elevate our consciousness and raise awareness to the hate certain groups foment. They have protected us against even worse disasters and continue to protect us from afar.

The battle against hate can only be won by changing the hearts and belief systems of those who embrace anger.

A few years ago I was at the Wailing Wall for Shabbat service. I sat down and began to meditate as I touched the wall. As a descendant of Abraham, Moses and Jesus I felt a profound sadness for the suffering of my people.

As the commotion began to calm I got into a very deep state and lost all connection to self. The message I got from spirit was that there are no holy places, all places are holy, there are no holy days, all days are holy.

We are whole, in fact we are holograms of the universe. Spirit cannot be tied into a location in space or a moment in time.

This misconception is the source of all of our self-inflicted pain and can only be overcome from liberation from limited thinking. Then I also realized that spirit has a very profound sense of humor and a great deal of patience. What appears to many as a tragic cosmic joke is in reality just a transition in our education and spiritual development.

I was later told that, as the nigh wore on groups of religious leaders had been stopping to observe me. When I regained consciousness almost two hours had lapsed, it was dark and the grounds were quiet. I had no concept of the passing of time. I will always cherish that experience as a major awakening for me.

Slavery, was yet another crime against humanity that caused much pain and suffering amongst the peoples of Africa. Is it possible that millions of souls involved in this barbaric and brutal captivity were sacrificed to create a nation of diversity? Isn’t America inspiring in its diversity and tolerance of different ethnic and religious persuasions as a result?

While we may not comprehend the methods of the Universe, it’s possible these horrible events occurred for much higher reasons. We have all been victims at one point or another in our lives. The key to leading an enlightened life is to avoid he “victim trap”

Victimization is the most crippling form of ignorance because it tells us that we are helpless and insignificant. We have become a nation of victims.

Being a victim excuses us from responsibility for our actions and gives ammunition to those who are prejudging us. The “victim trap” will also retard spiritual evolution and the healing process. Yoga can help us by letting us view the event as a spiritual lesson, which can be your greatest teacher in life. If you can control your emotions you will see that this is an opportunity to grow and evolve. The alternative is experiencing the same Karmic episodes again in you next incarnation.

Forgiveness is another important concept to be learned by the Yoga student.

It holds the key to unlocking your potential to grow and expand in your spiritual journey. Often times in my meditation I will end it by praying for someone who has hurt me or treated me unfairly. I forgive them and send them love. It is a very freeing and liberating experience. Furthermore, I believe that the energy you send can have profound affects on their behavior.

For spiritual practice to be effective we need to move away from the melodrama of the daily news. This doesn’t mean you should be ignorant to what is going on outside in the world, but your emotional attachment to it must be diminished.

Focus on news sources that offer objective coverage of events without sensationalism. When negativity and sensationalism are used to sell a story, it produces negative Karma. Clouding the mind with disturbing images will also interfere with meditation. Empowering oneself means limiting the power the media has over your life. Only through the introduction of spirit can we have a more loving and compassionate world.

The ultimate purpose of Yoga is to promote spiritual development. Sometimes you have to give it up in order to save it. The Buddha once said, “This life of ours is as transient as autumn clouds. To watch the birth and death of beings is like watching the movement of a dance. A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky, like a torrent flowing down a steep mountain.

We have stopped for a while to love to share, but this moment is transient, ephemeral. If we share with light heartedness and love then this moment will have been worthwhile”

When we can view the movement of our life from a place of detachment, we can enjoy the process and begin to see the larger picture. Finding your purpose in life and achieving your Dharma should be your ultimate objective. It is after all why your spirit has made the journey; there was a lesson to be learned.

Through mediation and regular Yoga practice you can begin to understand your Karma and design a program to transmute any Karmic debts. In addition at a very subtle level you will begin to experience your Dharma and a path will unfold which will lead you toward enlightenment.

Understanding the Space Time Illusion

We have been deceived by our senses into believing that we live in a material world. For example there is a whole eco-system residing under our covers and we don’t see it. If we did we might not want to go to sleep.

Our senses tell us that objects are material but physicists know they are made mostly of energy.

We are currently witnessing a major evolution in our understanding of life and science is beginning to confirm what the ancient mystics have been saying for thousands of years.

The great physicists of modern times now tell us that time may be circular and not linear as we had once thought. The universe is a series of expansions and contractions of mind-boggling proportions. Physicists are also telling us that we may be in a few dimensions at one time. That is our physical bodies are like the images on a television screen. In fact you are really not material, but a projection o energy and information coming from a quantum field. The key is to understand how the broadcasting process of your spirit.

Scientists have been studying areas in our universe called black holes.

These are extremely large areas where normal laws of physics do not apply.

Light cannot escape from these regions and all notions of time/space are turned upside down. It is possible that these unique areas may be windows to other dimensions of reality.

Since we are made of the same stuff of the universe, stardust the elements of the black holes are inside us. When we go into deep states of transcendence during meditation we are really entering a unique dimension that is a natural part of us, as much as it is a natural part of the universe.

But what is the darkness, the silence we experience during meditation? I like to think of it as the womb of creation itself. The unlimited possibilities that exist for the expression of universal intelligence. For example, in music the silence gives the notes their meaning. There are infinite possibilities for the way the notes are arranged. When the sound ends it doesn’t die, but merely returns from where it came. Without the silence, the music or tones would have no meaning.

In life, the silence of meditation helps reveal the meaning of our existence. So the most important thing you can do each day is to meditate and you will create the music of your life.

Meditation

Meditation is a mental process, which involves focusing one’s attention to detach one’s awareness from the objects of the senses. The meditation can either be objectless or focused. For beginners it is recommended that they focus on an object. In this section we will gain an understanding of what the meditative state is and practices for attaining meditative awareness.

Here is one of the images that Ram Dass uses in one of his audiotapes to describe the essence of the meditative state:

Have you ever been walking along the beach when you got lost in the totality of the moment? The feeling of the sand on your feet, the warmth of the sun on your shoulders, the gentle movement of hairs on your arm as a breeze picked up. You weren't thinking, "they’re looking at me, or concerned about yourself. You had surrendered to the moment and your every step was gentle and deliberate. Your breathing had also slowed and you were aware of a heightened sense of smell, if fact all your senses were more focused, it was as if you were gliding through life. This is the beginning of the meditative mind.

Focusing the meditative mind can be based upon a physical experience to begin with. For example, every time I sail my sunfish I have this experience. When I catch the wind at the right angle, and lean my body over the edge of the boat, I become one with the boat and the elements. I am not concerned about how messy my hair looks or the spray of the salt water on my body. My breathing becomes very relaxed and my senses become heightened.

For me this is a spiritual experience.

I begin to loose track of where my body ends and the boat begins as the time passes unnoticed. There is a feeling of openness, being unbounded by the normal limitations of geography, space and time. In the middle of the bay I can even get the sensation of the curvature of the earth from the pattern and shapes of the clouds bending on the horizon.

We may not always have the opportunity to get out on a sailboat or be in a special place, but we can take the journey in our mind and experience a mini-vacation right now where your are.

Here is an exercise to get your meditation started. Close your eyes and take a couple of deep belly breaths. Imagine the sounds of the gentle waves as they lap against the boat and the shades of indigo and green in the sails. Your feet are positioned in the hull to support your body weight.

As you trim the sails the boat picks up speed and you are sailing off into a brilliant sunset.

If you are distracted by your thoughts you will drift off course and the sail will fill with air and your progress will be halted. Come back and focus on the image of the sail, the destination, the purpose. You are the vessel that can maneuver through the water letting your thoughts drift by like waves, no matter how compelling they are. You are struck by the sheer beauty of the total scene, but you are focused on nothing specific.

As you come ashore you notice an unusual rock glimmering in the water. You pick up the stone and put it in your pocket. This is your gift from this special place. You follow a trail of tall dune grass glistening in the afternoon sun and settle in a shaded area where soft breezes are whispering through the trees. It is here you will receive your mantra.

In this special place where the ancient Native Americans once watched the strange European vessels arriving, you feel their presence and the gift they are about to bestow upon you. Their gift is to name your boat after a mantra, this way wherever you are, you can sail through your thoughts and stay unattached.

Please choose a mantra that will have the most meaning for you.

(Hebrew) To hora he: My soul, she is pure.

(Buddhist) Omine Pidme Hume: The all is a precious jewel which blooms as the lotus flower in my heart.

(Christian) Amazing grace open my heart

(Hindu) Om shanti in me: God, peace in me.

(Moslem) Salam in me: Peace in me.

I am love.

Body is pure mind is pure spirit is pure.

Repeat your mantra seven times as you follow your breath. With your gift of the mantra and your special stone to remind you of this journey, begin to set sail back to your present reality. You may begin to get a sensation of being back in the room, noticing the sounds around you. You may want to wiggle your toes, move your hands and stretch out to bring your body back to a full state of consciousness. This meditation can be found on track 15 of the CD that comes with Yoga for Men.

The mantra can be used anytime. You may be walking along a crowded street feeling isolated and unnerved by the incredible panoply of activity vying for your senses, but if you stay with the mantra, you can stay quiet inside and continue to view the world with loving eyes. The meditation we just experienced was a guided visualization, which is recommend for beginners to get an appreciation of the meditative state. It is a tool, which can be used until you feel you no longer need it.

The focus can be on any one of the following:

1) Bodily Sensation (breathing)
2) A Mantra (A repeated sound or phrase that can be used in conjunction with breathing)
3) A bodily location (such as one of the seven Chakras)
4) A Visualization (creative imagination)
5) A thought (i.e. peace, love. Can be combined with the Mantra)
6) An external object such as a flame or a candle.

The breath is my favorite because it is the natural rhythm and intelligence of life that courses through your physiology. It may be helpful to wear soft wax earplugs, which heighten the silence and accentuate your breathing.

The earplugs can help you block out any distracting noises in your environment. The mantra’s used in the sailing meditation are especially effective in opening the heart Chakra.

Meditation should preferably be done in the same place at the same time every day. The reason for your meditation can be enlightenment for the benefit of yourself and others.

Begin seated in an upright position, or sitting in a lotus position on the floor. Keep your back straight, but relaxed with your chest open and neck free. Correct posture is extremely important to open the movement of energy throughout the body. It is also helpful to use a cushion under your sitting bones to stop your legs from going to sleep. Rest your hands comfortably on your lap with palms open and facing upward. Close your eyes and take an inventory of your body and relax any areas that are tense.

A meditation time of anywhere from 15-25 minutes is recommended. At the end of the meditation you can choose to ask a question of a pressing problem.

You may be amazed to find how easy it is to solve problems in this enlightened and detached mode. You can also choose to say a prayer for loved ones and friends that are facing challenges or ask spirit too walk with you in all your steps during the day.

Your ego may come up with many different ways to disrupt your meditative practice such as:

  • doubt
  • fear
  • boredom
  • physical Discomfort
  • plans and To Do’s
  • negative Thoughts
  • past Hurts
  • feeling Superior

In order to get past these distractions use either the sail image or the leaf in the stream method that Ram Dass described in his tapes when you lose concentration. Imagine those disruptions are autumn leaves falling in a stream. When you get caught up in a distracting thought imagine it is an autumn leaf that has just fallen into the stream and has gotten caught up on the side. Gently nudge the leaf back into the flowing water, back into the stream and watch it get carried away by the currents. You should not get upset because your awareness will get caught many times. Through dogged persistence and faith you will eventually arrive at an awareness of you life that is more flexible and flowing.

Most people will find that meditation is the most difficult part of Yoga practice but it is critical. The universe has existed billions of years; your life span in this form is only about eighty. The investment of time you make in meditation will assist in your spiritual development beyond the narrow time frame of these living boundaries.

Hand and Eye Mudras

When you look at images of the Buddha you will notice that the hands and eyes are often in different positions. These stylized positions exemplify specific mudras as well as identify the specific attitude or relationships to the Universe. For example, if the hands together in a prayerful attitude this will accentuate a peacefulness of mind. The mudra associated with putting the hands together in this way is extremely powerful when doing balancing exercises.

Each Mudra corresponds to an energy flow in the body and mind. Similar to reflexology, where a part of the foot is associated with an organ, these mudras can be very powerful in opening channels to certain parts of the mind and body. Some of the mudras are incorporated into different poses. For example the prayer mudra is used at the beginning of the “Opening Bell and “Firm Footing” poses. There are other mudras suited for meditation as well. For example, the “Guyan mudra” is where the tip of the thumb touches the index finger, stimulating knowingness and imparting receptivity is often used in the lotus position during meditation.

There are many additional mudras that can be applied. One good source for further research is “Transitions to a Heart Centered World” by Guruarattan

K. Khalsa, PH.D.

Along with different hand mudras, there are also a number of eye mudras that you can practice before going into meditation. These will enhance your mental performance by improving learning, attention span, creativity and memory retrieval. The specific eye movements also help to activate the five codes of intelligence, which are sight (visual), sound (auditory), touch (kinesthetic), taste (gustatory) and smell (olfactory), and the sixth sense, which is intuition. The following list includes eight different eye mudras and their specific benefits that you can utilize before your meditation to deepen the experience.

Mudra One: Looking up and to the left – stimulates visual memory

Mudra Two: Looking down and to the left - stimulates auditory memory

Mudra Three: Looking down and to the right – retrieves kinesthetic memory

Mudra Four: Looking up and to the right - creates new visual expression

Mudra Five: Looking Horizontally and to the right – creates new auditory Expression

Mudra Six: Looking at the point between our eyes – stimulates the pineal gland, linked to intuition

Mudra Seven: Looking at the nose – stimulates olfactory (smell) memory

Mudra Eight: Looking at the tongue – stimulates gustatory (taste) memory

Mudras are an important part of Yoga practice. Performing eye mudras about two minutes prior to meditation will help deepen and strengthen your practice. Medical studies have shown it is also an excellent tool to induce relaxation and can be used during the day as a relaxation technique.

Daily Affirmations

The following affirmations are a combination of the virtues listed by Yoga master Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra and other Yoga principles. These are daily affirmations to be recited at the end of the meditation.

1) I will maintain an attitude of loving kindness to all people and things. (Includes sympathy, compassion, patience, humility and forgiveness)
2) I will always speak the truth
3) I will never take that which is not mine. (This includes material as well as non-material possessions, or credit for another’s work.) Aspire to become a person of integrity.
4) I will observe devotion and loyalty to family and friends.
5) I will overcome the trap of greed. (This is a vice of our consumer oriented culture, remember to repeat, “enough is enough” before making a purchasing decision.)
6) I will never give up on my goals and vision. (There is a time and place for good things to manifest. I will be patient)
7) I will stay un-attached, but in the moment
8) I will practice discipline through, retreat and daily Yoga practice.

Practicing these daily affirmations is meditation in action, the essence of a spiritual life.

In this chapter we explored the specific methodology developed over thousands of years by the ancient yogi’s for accessing your spiritual self, and living a more rewarding life. I hope this information will be helpful in motivating you to move forward on your inward journey.

The Mind


Now that you have worked on the physical poses, you are ready to move to the next step, understanding the philosophy behind your practice.

Yogic Philosophy

Yoga originated about 5000 years ago in India but only recently has it reached western societies. Today more than six million Americans are regularly practicing.

Unfortunately the focus of many Yoga programs especially those associated with the health club are focused on the body. It is very important to understand the concepts that are the foundation of Yoga. Yoga after all is the union of body mind and spirit. It is a lifestyle that incorporates the following concepts into daily practice through Yoga, meditation and service to others.

Many people talk about “out of body experiences”, the real focus of Yoga is to put you back in your body, in the moment, in touch with your feelings and emotions so you can face the normal stresses of life with a firmer footing.

It also enables you to become better at communication, especially listening so that you can be more effective in relationships and in the professional world.

Overcoming the Control of the Ego

(Manny wrestling his head to the ground…Get out of my head he shouts)

The ego is what keeps us attached and locked to the prison of our senses. This attachment arises from the survival instinct. As we move our awareness beyond the level of the fight or flight response into heightened states of consciousness, we can more easily identify with the universe and take a more detached view of events. In this way we can become the masters of our emotions, instead of being a victim of emotions. Meditation and contemplation are useful ways we can escape the confines of our ego and approach problems from a more enlightened vantage point.

At work, this might mean challenging the directives of a superior if you believe you are right. It could mean listening rather than wailing against constructive criticism that a superior is sharing with you. Going beyond the confines of your ego means owning your own power and staying centered at all times.

It also means being humble, as all beings are equal. If the executive staff gets to know the cleaning and maintenance people on a first name basis, everyone in the organization is made to feel important. By reducing the hierarchy of command in the organization you empower your human capital and raise the potential of the organization to become co-creators.

At home this may mean giving your children the opportunity to discover their own unique talents and not forcing your belief systems upon them.

In your relationship with your significant other this may mean taking a step backward from an argument that is repetitive and unproductive. Perhaps using one of the breathing techniques we learned in the earlier chapters.

Ultimately this may help you to understand that you do not need to control others and to honor the differences that make your relationships meaningful. 

Beyond Dualism 

(picture of Oscar as Devil and Saint)

The “Western Mind” is very focused on opposites, good and bad, right and wrong. The need to label everything as right and wrong and defend our point of view makes us all warriors. Sometimes we wage war when we should be giving love and compassion. Instead of having to label everything as right or wrong Yoga asks us to view things in terms of cause and effect. For example it might not be inherently evil to modify the genetic make-up of corn so it is resistant to insects, however since Monarch butterflies are insects they will be affected by the action and biodiversity of the planet will be effected.

Divorce is never a pleasant phenomenon especially when there are children involved and it takes a tremendous toll on the family, however there are times when it is appropriate. For example, if one spouse is preventing the other from evolving because they fear change, a dysfunctional marriage is inevitable and would cause a host of other problems in the family.

We spend so much of our energy defending our point of view. If we could just free ourselves of the need to convince everybody of our point of view we could unleash positive energy that could be channeled into more productive pursuits.

By understanding cause and effect we take a detached view of things. Being detached doesn’t mean not being concerned. In fact when you are detached your responses are more compassionate and they come from higher states of awareness rather than your habitual emotional reactions. By incorporating non-duality you’re your thought process you will be better able to make more rational decisions without having to wage battles. You will gain a better appreciation of all sides of the story.

How Can I Serve, How Can I Help? 

One of the most important concepts in Yoga involves service. Ultimately every business organization exists to fulfill a purpose. Encouraging volunteerism amongst employees is one of the best ways to build an excellent customer service team. If you encourage employees at the individual level to exhibit positive behaviors they are likely to turn around and exhibit these in the service of your customers. Thus a chain reaction of positive behavior has begun and can extend beyond the workplace.

Before you meet with a potential client/customer try to perform a “Loving Kindness Meditation”. It will help you focus on their needs as opposed to you Ego, which is telling you that you must close the deal.

By focusing on how you can help and serve you instantly change the exchange of energy from receiving to giving. The pressure is taken off both parties and your potential client/customer will respond accordingly. The key is to focus on giving without the expectation of something in return. You will find that you become a better listener and the potential client/customer will immediately sense that you are dialoging with her not at her.

It is very empowering to replace the burden of having to close a transaction with “how can I help, how can I serve”. You may also find that you are actually coming up with more effective solutions that will create a greater degree of loyalty in the long run. In this way your business relationships will survive ever shortening product life cycles and by opening communication with the customer you will continue to refine your product or service to meet their ever-changing needs.

Another example is Mary Kay cosmetics, a Christian Based company. There motto is God first, Family second and company third. The key to their success was to develop a culture where values, especially to family community and spirit were respected.

The Marriott Hotel Chain, a Mormon based company uses a similar approach to develop excellent customer service skills. In our era with the blurring of the demarcation lines between personal life and business, organizations that create a balanced life approach will maximize their human capital and outperform their competitors.

I have founded a company called Yoga for Business that helps companies train employees and executives to use spiritual practices to improve motivation, customer service and encourage change. Currently we are in the process of developing a study to determine the benefits of this type of motivation on sales, turnover, healthcare costs, etc. The results of this study will be published in the fall of 2002. Please visit our website www.yogaforbusiness.com for details.

In our personal lives the focus on “how can I help, how can I serve” can be extremely beneficial in our sexual relationships as was discussed earlier. I suggest using the Loving Kindness Meditation before lovemaking. When you are focused on how you can serve your partner, you will be released from performance anxiety. In addition changing the focus away from your gratification will paradoxically bring you more gratification as your partner will sense the energy exchange and will feel a heightened sense of arousal. In addition, by focusing on how you can serve you will find yourself slowing down and enjoying the moment.

Service is also key to raising children. Instead of feeling burdened by the demands of your family you can rejoice and participate in activities with a more positive attitude. The emotion of love is very powerful and should be used frequently.

Children also need to be taught compassion skills in the same way we teach math or science. In order to have successful relationships, children need to understand how to give to others. I had started a Kid’s Care Club in my hometown where I got children involved in helping out in nursing homes and homeless shelters. I recommend these activities for all children four and older.

Understanding Karma or Past Actions

(Picture of Manny at the $6.99 buffet special. Picture of expanded Manny leaving the buffet)

The term Karma means action. Each action you make generates a reaction and a memory associated with that action. The objective of Karma Yoga is to accept the fate of your Karma from previous actions so that you don’t generate any new Karmic debts. Ultimately we want to be able to transmute our past Karma for the benefit of ourselves and others.

We are a bundle of cosmic software, which according to yogic tradition is called Karma. We are made of the same atoms and molecules that existed as a point of light in the beginning of the universe. We are not separate or distinct from it. Likewise our brain carries the memories of all life forms that exist on earth. We are a walking Hologram of creation. Science has shown us that we have a mammalian, reptilian, and amphibian structures in the brain. From a physiological perspective we also carry the memories of creation and who we really are. In addition we carry the memories of past incarnations, memories of our race, our species, etc.

Yoga and meditation helps us understand our software so that we can begin to understand what makes us tick. It is possible to advance to the state where you can use memories vs. allowing memories to use you. When you understand your Karma you will no longer be a victim of it. You can then work on the more important task of transmuting your Karma into your Dharma, which is the reason, your soul made this life’s journey.

For example if you had a past incarnation whereby you made your living by selling unhealthy addictive products to others, in the current incarnation you might be a victim of that addiction. To free yourself of that Karma you may start a Smoking Cessation Business. By transmuting your Karma you will not only help yourself, but also repay past debts to others. In doing so you will alter the flow of energy in the universe, the contribution you can make, will also be the most economically beneficial use of your talents. This is the hidden force behind many successful business enterprises.

As we progress through various incarnations we are accompanied by other souls with whom we have shared past Karma. Yoga and meditation helps us to understand relationships with family, friends and co-workers from a broader more universal perspective and may help us to develop more compassion for others who are struggling in their journey. We don’t have to solve everyone’s problems and we certainly do not have to take responsibility for the actions of others. We can however become a better listener and can lead by example.

This may mean letting our children make mistakes, even though we want to shelter them from the pain.

By focusing on how you can serve others you will generate good Karma. An abundance of good karma will make it easier to accomplish your goals and move toward Dharma. If you can take a painful experience and turn it around, by helping others in the process you gain positive Karma. With Meditation and contemplation you will begin to uncover your Karma and begin to devote attention to living a life of purpose.

The Right Season (Synchronicity)

(Picture of Oscar giving Annie a Valentines Day Card on Labor Day)

The regular practice of meditation will increase and enhance the synchronistic moments of your life. The dictionary defines synchronicity as a coincidence of events, where there is a simultaneous action, which is related. For example picking up the phone to call someone and finding him or her on the other line.

Synchronicity can be used in many areas of your life…It can be used to build a business, form an advisory board, find a strategic partner, or meet your soul mate or experience wonderful vacations.

Consider that every person you meet offers you an opportunity to learn and grow. By staying alert and in the moment you can capitalize on opportunities when they arise. Daily Yoga practice will help you to refine these sensibilities.

I have also used synchronicity when on vacation. Vacations are the best time to practice getting comfortable with stepping into the unknown and letting go. The known is our past; there is no growth there. When you go on vacation try to go to different places and seek out adventure. There are newfound friends to be made, different countries to learn about, and interesting places to explore.

In a recent trip to the Dominican Republic we dined with new friends, explored waterfalls, journeyed through rainforests and enjoyed learning about life in their country.

Each day you’ll begin to let go of your judgment and expectations and each day enjoy yourself even more. Yoga will help to open the mind so you can experience the full potential, unlimited possibilities in life so you will find that your desires are fulfilled with less effort.

Understanding Hidden Motivations and Meanings

Yoga when practiced in a group can be extremely powerful in improving the relations within an organization or a family. It can help members of the group to:

a) Get in touch with their emotions and feelings and empathize with others
b) Feel more comfortable with themselves
c) Improve communication throughout the organization both amongst peer groups and across hierarchical lines.
d) Yoga creates a feeling of belonging to a whole whose sum is greater than its parts. Therefore Yoga enhances organizational integration and unites employees behind common goals.

In the family setting these principles can help us avoid hurt, which can become anger. For example your parent may be confrontational and grumpy.

Perhaps it is that they are in pain, or maybe they are not happy with the way their life was lived. Try to use the Loving Kindness Meditation the next time you are with a difficult family member. Smile at them and send them love. Remember that it is not your responsibility to solve their problems. It is your responsibility to be compassionate and to send love.

Focus on the Process 

(Picture of Manny eating dinner while thinking of desert)

When a runner trains for a marathon they will tell you that they do not focus on the entire task, they take one step at a time. By staying in the moment you can become much more effective in accomplishing goals. When you focus only on the outcome you lose the spontaneity and the flow of creative energy dries up.

You can practice using the stuff of your daily life as fertile ground for your meditation. The Yoga for Healthy Living Program is all about applying the principles of Yoga to your daily life. The other books which are entitled “Human Resource Initiatives Present: Firm Footing, Enough is Enough and Soy Diversity” help us to work, make economic decisions and eat more mindfully. Ultimately all of your actions can part of the meditative state so that you will be walking in the light divine energy at all times. This is what it means to be enlightened.

In business we should consider all problems as potential business models because the represent opportunities for creative thinking. The key is not to force one solution on a problem, which only creates new problems, but to construct several possible solutions. By looking at multiple solutions, we’re much more likely to reach a positive result. This is in fact the methodology nature uses to promote evolution and progress. In evolution nature attempts to solve problems by trial and error. All great inventors have had many false starts before they made their discovery.

The key is to suspend judgment and not consider false starts failures but opportunities for further growth. By keeping an open-mind we submit ourselves to many learning experiences and opportunities.

Dharma or Purpose in Life

Just as every business has as a mission or business model, each individual has their own special purpose in this life. As a Yogi, the most important thing we can do is to discover our mission or purpose for this life. Often it is the one thing we can do better than anyone else and when we are doing this activity we are in a state of timeless awareness, bliss.

For a business organization, helping employees to discover their purpose can be extremely beneficial for improving productivity and enhancing creativity.

This approach is tied into the “how can I help, how can I serve” concept.]

If the employees truly believe that the organization wants to help them grow and develop, they will respond by giving their all back to the company. In addition the company will be more willing to evaluate employees strengths and facilitate job transfers and retraining. It is a win win situation for everyone.

If you are on a path to pursue your Dharma your spouse or significant other may be helpful in your journey especially if they are open to exploring their own path. Where your spouse or significant other feels threatened, they will become an obstacle, the relationship may have to be terminated so that you can proceed with your evolution.

In the family, it is very important to help children discover their Dharma.

Often times we either push our children to pursue our dreams or use fear to get them to choose a “secure occupation”.

Much of our unhappiness in life stems from being unfulfilled in our jobs.

The key t raising happy and healthy adults is to allow children to find their own path and provide guidance when necessary.

Balance

(Picture of Annie Manny and Oscar in balancing position.)

In the Yoga for Healthy Living program I have developed a pose called “firm footing in a changing marketplace” along with other positions that are metaphors for a state of mind. In this exercise, try to balance on one foot. If you loose your balance you can catch yourself with the other foot.

Okay now lets switch to the other foot. This exercise if practiced daily will help you to incorporate the belief that you can be flexible to changes in your environment and you will always land on your feet. This exercise is also useful in balancing left and right brain functions a topic we will address shortly.

Try to solve problems using all of your senses. We each have a bias of using only one of our senses and subjugating the rest. We need to bring the rest of our senses into the equation and trust our gut reactions.

Use all your assets. Spend time in silence each day. Through mediation and focused concentration we can improve our synchronicity. Meet the right people at the right time, be prepared when opportunity presents itself, and find what we are here to do.

If a client of yours was running a business and not fully utilizing their assets they would probably go out of business. As a proactive advisor you would make sure they leveraged all their assets to achieve their business goals. Many of us are not using all our potential; we are running on one Brain Hemisphere and only using one or two senses. We rarely if ever engage in quiet contemplative thoughts.

It is important to consider all the technologies that will alleviate you from certain mundane chores because the time freed up can be re-allocated to creative business building. You will be very empowered by upgrading your skill and repositioning yourself for success in the new economy.

But above all imagine how secure you can feel knowing that you are staying ahead of the changing marketplace. By embracing technology you will remain a competitive and vital force in your industry.

Bringing Love into the Workplace 

Fear can be a potent motivating force, but over the long-term the effects on human capital can be damaging. If all the participants in the marketplace are using this form of motivation, then you will have is high turnover and stress-management-problems similar to what we are experiencing in today’s fast paced environment.

An alternative, and more long-term solution would be to change the motivation from fear to love. Love based motivation will create a sense of loyalty and purpose and the energy levels achieved can be sustained.

In your own business you can move away from a fear basis motivation to a love basis of motivation by using the Loving Kindness Meditation we discussed earlier to motivate employees and improve customer relations. By calling on your higher self, you can also tap into the “cosmic computer” and get information that will be helpful to your customers and employees.

When we connect with employees at this level the dialogue becomes more meaningful. The employee will recognize the concern immediately and the results are improved performance. The employee then uses the same approach for customers, fellow employees and others. The loving kindness virus will spread quickly throughout these relationships.

The core of relationships will then be built on compassion, care, trust and respect. Developing an excellent customer service base requires having all employees focus on “how can I help, how can I serve our customers”. The best way to begin to inspire this attitude is at the very top of the organization with top-level executives and managers. This will ensure that the organization is committed to this philosophy.

Bringing Love into the Home

We are very much a touch-deprived society. The human being was designed to live in groups with a great deal of physical interaction. We have become isolated even though we live together in condensed metropolitan areas.

A study was recently done among various cultures regarding the number of physical touches between couples. It is no surprise to find that our culture is at the bottom of the list. Just go to any health club and you will see people are paying large sums of money to have some interaction with their trainers.

For those not in committed relationships I strongly recommend a cat or dog.

Studies have shown that interaction with our pets can help us live longer happier lives. In addition any one with compromised immune systems should consider regular weekly massages.

For those in committed relationships time must be made for communicating through touch. Busy couples might have to schedule a date and stick to it.

Massage and gentle stroking are in fact very stimulating and can be an excellent method of foreplay. It is also a way to put the “how can I help how can I serve” principle into operation. It is most powerful when you do the meditation before and during the massage.

Daily Yoga Workout


In this column I provide a recommended daily Yoga Workout routine that provides you with a complete physical workout. I have renamed (Asanas) positions in Yoga using terms from business to help you identify with the movement and focus your attention. The corresponding Yogic terminology is also given along with physiological benefits of the Asanas.

It is recommended that Hatha Yoga be practiced on an empty stomach.

Opening Bell” or Sun Salutation

Approx. time: 5-10 min. (At least 30 seconds in each position if possible)
Benefit: Energizing the body after rest, improving circulation

Keep knees a little soft. Be sure the buttocks are contracted slightly, spinal column long and the head, neck and shoulders are completely relaxed.

a) Standing with eyes closed feet about five inches apart, begin to feel the breath flowing gently into the lungs and imagine the breath filling the belly, ribs and chest with fresh air. Take a moment to dedicate this practice as a time for yourself as you bring hands together and lift them towards the heavens. Think to yourself, "I hold my ground while flexible to change. Today I will stretch my body, mind and creativity." 

b) As you reach an apex, allow the arms to separate and rotate externally, stretching the spinal column and lifting the sternum. Make sure to soften the shoulders away from the ears as you exhale.

c) Reach Upward and lean back slightly to stretch. Then on the exhalation begin to hinge forward from the hips to slowly allow the torso to fall forward and let the hands fall toward the feet. Simply surrender to gravity and release. Keep breathing deeply. Take notice of any areas of resistance. Direct the breath into these areas. 

Modification: If legs are tight or if you are experiencing lower back pain, bend the knees during forward bending. 

d) As you exhale place your hands by the sides of your feet and soften knees if needed.

e) Inhale, step the right leg backwards and rest the knee and shin on the floor. Allow the hand and right knee to keep the balance. Release the pelvis to forward and down to help gravity extend the stretch and open the groin. Relax the jaw, relax the face. Keep the left foot and both hands connected firmly to the earth, breathe smoothly.

f) Exhale, step the left leg backward to push up position while supporting bodyweight of the torso with your hands. Press out thru the heels and engage abdominal muscles so not to sway the back. If your arms give out then bring the knees to the floor for support.

g) Inhale and then exhale. Press the hips up towards the position called Downward Facing Dog. Push the buttocks toward the rear wall and lengthen the spine by dropping the chest toward the knees keeping the hands firmly rooted down. Try to press your toward the floor and lift the buttocks toward the sky.

If you are having trouble getting heels to the floor that is natural as it takes time to get the hamstrings to loosen and elongate. 

h) Inhale then exhale back into a push-up position. 

i) Inhale, begin to feel the pressure on the hands as you slide chest along the floor raising the upper torso off the floor and arching back pressing the chest forward, while keeping the pelvis connected to floor to hold and open the sacrum plate. Lower the shoulders away from the neck. Legs are outstretched and tops of feet are connected to the floor. Keep belly button and lower abdomen connected to the ground. Keep the chest open. Push the floor away from you as you draw elbows further back. Shoulders are down, scapula is back, and chest is lifted. Like a cobra open your heart center, and open the throat.

j) Inhale then turn feet so you are back on toes, exhale back into a push up position.

k) Step the right leg forward this time keeping the left knee off ground. Right foot is planted firmly on ground left leg extended out bodyweight on toes. My hands and feet support my body. Allow the pelvis to lunge forward and down naturally release into gravity. Breath deeply, to open the groin. Relax the jaw, relax the face, and keep both feet connected to the earth and breath smoothly.

l) Step the left leg forward to a bent over stretch. Lean forward. Keep the knees very slightly soft. Turn the under part of the sitting bones back up to the ceiling. Let the spine elongate and allow the neck to be soft, the face relaxed. Surrender to earth and gravity. Engage the abdominal muscles, straighten back and slowly let the body rise to greet a new day.

Begin to reach upwards toward the heavens and bring hands to sides. Repeat the above steps (a - l) on the opposite side by reversing the left-right positions.

Maximize Resources (Kapalabhati) Pranayama

Time: 30-60 seconds.
Benefit: Increased mental alertness, emotional balance, improved digestion, developing abdominal muscles.

Sit with legs crossed in the Easy Posture. (If you find that you are stiff and your hips are not rotating and your knees are high in the sitting posture, I suggest that you take 2-3 pillows and elevate the buttocks. You can also place pillows under your knees. You can place back against a wall to ensure that the spine is erect. If your not sitting against a wall, make sure that the spine is elongated. All the work, is being done from the lower belly, the diaphragm is soft.

You may want to start by putting your hand on your belly to learn the art of breathing deeply from the abdomen. I suggest starting off by gently breathing in slow motion, lengthening the inhalation and exhalation each time. Then increase the speed with the focus being forcing the air out of the nostrils in short forced breaths. The inhalation will occur naturally but the focus will be on the exhalation.

As you get more comfortable with the exercise begin to engage the sphincter muscle tightening on the exhalation

During the entire breathing process the face shoulders and chest are relaxed. Begin to force air out of your lungs in short quick motions.

Continue this for at least 60 seconds.

If you find yourself getting dizzy, exhale into your hand and relax for a few minutes. This pose is called “maximizing resources” because you are filling your body with increased oxygen, a resource you may not have been using to its full and necessary extent. This exercise will clear sinus passages and bring more oxygen to the brain, stimulating brain cells. You are strengthening the abdominal muscles and massaging internal organs. This exercise known as Kapalabhati will increase mental alertness and energize the system.

Strategic Alignment.

2 minutes. Alternate Leg Stretch.
Time: 30-60 seconds
Benefit: Strengthening and increasing flexibility in spine, improving circulation, alleviating constipation, energizing lymphatic system. 

Extend your legs in front of you leaving about one foot of space in between them. Sit firmly and evenly on your sitting bones. Bend the right knee and bring the bottom of the right foot in to touch the inside of the left thigh. For those tight in the hips, the bent knee will be quite a distance from the ground, so I suggest you use pillows to balance your sitting bones.

Use your arms to stretch upward first and then twist slightly forward over the extended right leg. Be watchful that the center of your chest is aligned directly over the center of the outstretched leg. Feel a twist through the left hip. As you stretch over the bent right leg, drive the left buttock back to the ground and breathe into the position. With each exhalation, surrender into a deeper stretch allowing the breath to bring you deeper and deeper to your absolute maximum in the posture.

On the opposite side of the leg stretch, the left knee is bent and left foot is placed along the inside of the right thigh. Prepare for the position by lifting up through the spine and visualize the spine as an accordion. First open the accordion by stretching upward then I slightly twist to the left and attempt to center over the knee then bend forward.

The keys to this pose are:

1st – stretch upward
2nd – twist slightly
3rd – extend and center 

Downsizing the Middle

Sit Ups and Scissors
Time: 30-60 seconds for each
Benefit: Improved breathing and abdominal strengthening

Breathing exercises support movement an abdominal exercise can be used as a backdrop for learning how to breathe. Two benefits will occur. First you will become less focused on the quantity of repetitions and more focused on the breath. This allows you to do more. For anyone whose abdominal muscles are weak make sure that the lumbar spine, (the lower back) is flush with the floor. Be certain your hands are interlaced behind the head, and that the hands support the head, not the neck, to protect the cervical spine. For those in not very good shape it's recommended that they place one leg down on the floor and do individual leg lifts to begin with. Once you feel more confident you can move onto the next step.

Pedaling: Lay on your back on the floor. With hands behind your head for support raise your right elbow and your left knee. Attempt to bring them together on the exhalation. Lower slowly on the inhalation and repeat on the opposite side. Continue with the breath and continue to build up to 60 seconds in duration.

Scissors: Lay flat on your back on the floor. With hands at your sides attempt to raise your feet about six inches off the ground. Cross your legs right over left on the exhalation and left over right on the inhalation.

Continue with the breath and continue to build up to 60 seconds.

Firm Footing in a Changing Marketplace

Warrior Pose/Tree Pose
Time: 30-60 seconds on each leg
Benefits: Balancing left and right brain functioning, mental stability, overcoming addictions, depressions, etc., strengthening legs, hips and feet.

Like an Olympic diver, about to make a jump, keep your eyes unfocused and go within. Stand on your left leg and spread your toes as wide as possible to make as much contact with the floor as you can. Visualize the foot as a snowshoe attempting to balance on one foot. Extend the right leg back slowly and point the toe. As your torso begins to fold forward, raise your arms alongside the ears keeping your fingers together and extended projecting the energy field outward. You will feel like a strip of energy extending from the tips of your fingers through your body to the feet pulling and strengthening your lumbar. Align your hips so they are even. Your gaze should be forward and shortly down. The gaze should be steady and will help your body manifest steadiness. The left leg should act like a tall strong tree. Arms are like branches. Remember that nothing can shake you from the foundation of your inner strength and source of power. Hold this position if you can for 30 seconds. When you come out slowly lower the right leg, hands together at heart. Bring yourself to a vertical prayer position for 30 seconds of deep relaxing breath. Standing tall with hands together at prayer position. Repeat on the other side.

Tree Pose

Stand in an upright position. Inhale, raise your arms and stretch upward. Lift the right foot off the ground. If comfortable with balance bend right knee and raise it toward your chest and support the left leg by placing the right foot against the inside of the left thigh. Hold the position and then repeat on the other side. If you feel less secure, practice this exercise near a wall or a piece of furniture that you can use for support. In the beginning you may just want to practice balancing on one foot with your other foot just slightly off the floor until your balance has improved. Build to sixty seconds on each leg. 

The following position is very advanced and should not be attempted if there are any medical issues.

Change From the Top Down

Headstand Pose
Time: 30-60 seconds
Benefits: Tonifying the vital organs, stimulating the endocrine gland, reducing male pattern baldness, reversing the aging process, total upper body conditioning, abdominal conditioning, building strength and elasticity in the superficial and deep musculature, ligaments and connective tissue of the spine and rib cage. Improve posture and overall structural integrity of the body promoting improved digestion, respiration and circulation.

Assume child’s pose on the floor preferably in front of a wall, which can support you if you fall backwards. Make sure there is ample padding by using a mat, some pillows or a blanket folded up. Clasp your hands behind your head and make sure your fingers are interlaced around the back of the head. Elbows should be shoulder width apart. Gently place your head down on the floor. Gently walk in. Slowly lift up into the headstand, attempting to keep lifting, bringing the energy up so you're not collapsed into the position. Supporting your weight with your shoulders feel the blood circulating through your brain cells, stimulating, restoring, reversing aging, oxygenating upper portions of your body, releasing pressure on the lower organs, releasing pressure on the legs, clearing the veins and redirecting the flow of lymph. Hold pose for 30-60 seconds, or as long as possible and gently lower feet back down to floor.

Modification/Alternative: Follow the procedure as outlined above walking the legs in but not lifting up to a headstand, just raise the right then the left leg up. Beginners shouldn't focus on raising legs up. Focus should be on getting comfortable in pose and strengthening arms.

Camel Pose: Bending Over Backward to Support Your Customers

Time: 30-60 seconds
Benefits: Stretch the abdominal organs, relieving visceral compression; gently massaging the kidney adrenal area, stimulating and improving functioning, stretching the neck and throat thereby massaging the thyriod and thymus glands, Strengthening the musculature of the torsos, shoulder, and pelvic girdles and the legs.

On knees, (with toes curled under and heel elevated for beginners) slowly bend torso and head backward while pushing chest forward; your hands are supporting weight by holding your feet at bottom of soles. Thighs rotate in while your hips press forward. Your sternum should be lifted high to avoid compression in your neck. As you reach further back for the heels or soles of feet, draw your scapulas together very tightly and keep your shoulders down On the inhalation, extend your chest upward and forward feeling the rib cage opening and making space for the energy of the heart chakra.

Extend the pelvis forward; so the focus is not bending back, it’s extending forward. Bending back is incidental to this position. When you are ready you can come out of position by gently releasing hands on feet and leading your head then upper body forward and down into child's pose for a brief rest.

An easier variation of this exercise is to use a chair or bed and positioned behind you, which you can use to create an arch without having to fully extend over and back. In this way you can build us strength to enable you to eventually achieve the position.

Deflating Bloated Bureaucracy: Ashivini Mudra/Mula Bandha

Time to Complete: 30-60 seconds
Benefits: Emotional balancing, clarity of mental processes, improved digestion and burning of food and calories, improved sexual performance, stamina and heightened orgasm.

Get down on your hands and knees to practice this breathing/pelvic stimulation exercise. It is helpful to imagine a square block between your arms and thighs so that the arms and thighs are perpendicular to the floor and ceiling. On the inhalation, my chest presses forward and the pelvis arcs back. On the exhalation my chest concaves and the pelvis tilts forward. At that point, engage and lift the anus and prostate muscles. The alternating motion looks like arching waves. This exercise sends blood to the kidneys.

Remember to be gentle with your neck. Continue for 60 seconds, 4 seconds of inhalation to eight seconds of exhalation if possible.

These exercises are extremely valuable for men who have had prostate problems, and for increasing your sexual energy.

Bridging Corporate Cultures: Wheel Pose

This position is an advanced position and should not be attempted if there are any medical conditions.
Time: 30-60 seconds
Benefits: Stretch the abdominal organs, relieving visceral compression; gently massaging the kidney adrenal area, stimulating and improving functioning, stretching the neck and throat thereby massaging the thyroid and thymus glands, Strengthening the musculature of the torsos, shoulder, and pelvic girdles and the legs.

Lay flat on your back and move your hips upward. Push the torso by lifting body weight onto the arms and pushing forward toward the direction of the gaze. Feel the strengthening in your arms. Lift as high and as forward as the chest will allow. As you slowly lower down, attempt to lift your head and tuck in your chin so that the back of your head is cradled against the floor. In a full back bend the interior of the spinal column has stimulated all of the nerve passages. After you come back to a resting pose, flat on back, draw the knee into the chest as a counter pose so these very areas of the spinal cord are now stretching in the opposite direction.

Caution: Do not move neck while in this position.

Alternative Bridge for Beginners: Laying flat on your back, stretch out your arms besides your body, palms downward facing. Use the arms as leverage and begin to raise the torso off the ground with your legs only. Use the gluteus muscles in the thighs to support the weight.

Redeploying Assets: Forward Stretch

Time: 30-60 Seconds
Benefits: Strengthening and increasing flexibility in spine, improving circulation, alleviating constipation, energizing lymphatic system.

Sit upright on your sitting bones with your legs stretched out in front of you. Extend forward with your arms reaching for your toes and exhale into the extension opening the sinews of your sciatic nerve. This pose releases lumbar tissues and stretches the supporting spinal muscles. It also works the back of your solar plexus, center to the back of your second chakra.

Exhale deeply attempting to deepen the position and direct the energy between your eyebrows. Direct your energy into the areas that resist the most. Feel your tension dissolving with the position as you surrender to gravity. When you are ready release and come up slowly and raises and shake out your legs to jump start circulation.

Note: Beginners should use support underneath the buttocks such as a pillow or folded blanket. Also caution should be taken if you are experiencing any lower back pain or a herniated disc.

Timing Acquisitions: Breathing Arches

Time: 30-60 seconds
Benefits: Increased mental alertness, emotional balance, improved digestion, developing abdominal muscles

Begin in a seated position that is most comfortable to you. With hands using the shins as levers start flexing the spine in a back and forth motion taking inhalations on the forward and exhalations on the reverse. This cleanses the breath and clears the mind. As you reach back and forth round out an arch. With each breath stay focused on keeping your shoulders down and away from the ears. With each inhalation extend your chest even higher and fuller, drawing the scapulas deeper down into the back and together.

Then just relax in seated position.
 

Global Vision: Spinal Twist

Time: 30-60 seconds on each side
Benefits: Improving strength and elasticity of spinal column, stimulating respiratory organs and functioning, massaging liver, kidneys, adrenals, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen. Compressing and stretching the intestines stimulating the absorption, digestion and elimination functions, restoring balance, increase strength in upper body shoulder and pelvic girdle area.

Begin by sitting in an Easy Posture. Take your left leg and place it over the right leg. Bend by twisting your torso to left. The left hand should be behind your back providing additional support. The right hand serves as a lever helping you to twist to full capacity. Continue to stretch and push at the hips twisting, not grinding.

Attempt to keep your sitting bones down evenly on the floor. Try to resist the temptation to lift one side of your buttocks off the floor to give a better stretch. This will throw your spine out of alignment. Also try not to lean on the hand on the floor too much. Remember that the spine is an accordion, which must be extended first. Twisting on a collapsed spine is simply grinding. Create space between each vertebrae and disc and then twist slowly. The emphasis is on vertically extending the spine to facilitate the twisting. During the exhalation, attempt to twist a little further. Slowly come out of the position by reversing the twist and coming to seated position. Repeat on the other side.

Caution: This is an advanced position and should only be attempted by individuals who are very athletic and have a lot of upper body strength. Anyone with any neck problems should consult their Physician before attempting this exercise. In addition do not attempt to move the neck while in this position.

Shouldering Responsibility:Handstand/Shoulderstand

Time: 15-30 seconds
Benefits: Tonifying the vital organs, stimulating the endocrine gland, reducing male pattern baldness, reversing the aging process, total upper body conditioning, abdominal conditioning, building strength and elasticity in the superficial and deep musculature, ligaments and connective tissue of the spine and rib cage. Improve posture and overall structural integrity of the body promoting improved digestion, respiration and circulation.

Bend over next to a wall and put your weight onto your hands and arms. Gently kick each leg upward into a handstand pose allowing the wall to stop you at a vertical position. Your hands are spread and your feet are straight. Once you’re against the wall, and your heels are touching, it will take the pressure off the lumbar spine. Flex your feet a little pushing the heels up as if to reach the ceiling. This lifts the lumbar sacrum area.

When you are ready slowly lower legs onto floor and be seated in an Easy Posture. 

Alternative shoulder-stand for beginners: Position yourself on your mat with buttocks against a wall. Place two or three folded blankets beneath your buttocks. Raise hips and support weight with your hands. Position your legs against the wall for balance. After about a month or so you may be able to straighten legs without using the wall. Finally after several months you can lengthen the position by lifting more fully into a full-shoulder stand.

The Body


Yoga practice consists of breathing exercises (pranayama) and Yoga postures (asanas). We will first explore the various breathing exercises; correct sitting positions and details descriptions of the positions. The benefits of each pose will be discussed. Before we begin however it is important to understand the energy centers in the body and how they relate to our mental and spiritual states.

Chakras

The word chakra is Sanskrit for (wheel) or (disk) and signifies one of the seven basic psychoenergetic centers of the body through which Prana or life energy circulates. There are certain colors associated with the chakras. 

  • Chakra One: Located at the base of the spine and related to physical identity and the basic survival instinct; associated with red, symbolizing health, security, and material prosperity
  • Chakra Two: Located in the abdomen and related to emotions and the sexual organs; associated with orange, symbolizing adaptability
  • Chakra Three: Located in the solar plexus and related to one's energy center and personal power; associated with yellow symbolizing effectiveness
  • Chakra Four: Located in the heart region and related to love; associated with green, symbolizing self-acceptance and love
  • Chakra Five: Located in the throat and related to creativity and communication; associated with blue, symbolizing self-expression
  • Chakra Six: Located between the eyebrows and related to self reflection, inner light, and wisdom; associated with indigo, symbolizing intuition
  • Chakra Seven: Located at the crown and related to higher states of consciousness; associated with white and violet, symbolizing wisdom 

Yoga helps to open the energy channels in the body and release any blocks in certain chakra regions. This is because we metabolize our experiences into our bodies and imbalances develop in specific regions. Yoga addresses the mind-body connection and alters the pattern and flow of energy throughout the system making adjustments to create balance. The most important energy channel runs from the base of the spine to the crown of the head.

Breathing 

Before you begin, it is important to understand the role breathing plays in your Yoga practice. Prana, which is the ancient Sanskrit term for breath, also means life. This is because the intelligence of the universe travels effortlessly through your physiology with every breath. The breath is a vessel that can help transport you to a calmer more focused reality. As you go along you will notice a direct relationship between the breath and each Yogic position. The appropriate inhalation or exhalation that should accompany the movement of each position will be indicated throughout the book.

In some cases your breathing will be very gentle as when you go into deep states of meditation. Other times your breathing will be very rapid and deep as in certain Kundalini positions.

Most people breath from their chest. We tend to get stressed and we hold on to our breath and tighten our abdominal muscles. For purposes of Yoga you want to relax and loosen those abdominal muscles. We will practice some deep Yoga breaths to orient us to this. All breathing should arise from deep in your belly and should come through your nose slows down your breath and stimulates the Chakra associated with energy, (Prana).

In Yoga your body moves in four different directions; forward, backward, sideways and twisting. You should exhale at the beginning of each of these positions except for the backbends, which commence with an inhalation. As you practice the breathing will occur naturally.

Try this simple exercise. Sit comfortably in a chair, close your eyes and imagine you are snorkeling in a tropical coral reef. Place one hand on you abdomen and notice how your breath flows in a long natural rhythmic motion corresponding to the ebb and flow of the tide. Now take some long deep breaths in through your nose and then gently exhale through your nose. Try this for sixty seconds or approximately thirty rounds. Afterwards sit with your eyes closed and take notice of the changing energy patterns. You may notice a calming sensation and an enhanced attentiveness and clarity.

Perhaps not much of anything has happened. With continuing practice the benefits will become more apparent

The benefits of yogic breathing are as follows:

1) Reduces tension and anxiety.
2) Strengthens the immune system.
3) Increases your metabolism.
4) It keeps the lung tissue elastic, allowing you to take in more oxygen.
5) It tones the abdominal area.
6) It can improve posture.

Movement

All movements should be slow and graceful. Hatha Yoga is really a moving meditation where each position represents a different attitude toward the universe. You are an antennae to the cosmic mind. By slowing down the movements you:

a) Can more easily attain the meditative state in a position thereby increasing the depth and intensity of the seated meditation to follow.
b) Reduce risk of injury.
c) Better control breathing.
d) Enable more muscles to share in the workload, thereby improving conditioning.

Remember it is better to bend your legs and arms in any given position than to risk injury. Over a period of time you can challenge yourself to gradually straighten out in a pose.

Generally each pose will include first bending in one direction and then bending in the opposite direction.

There are two basic postures you'll we need to master: 

Seated Postures

The primary position for meditation and many Kundalini breathing exercises is a seated posture. Many Westerners will find that their knees are a few inches higher than their hips when they sit cross-legged on the floor. I recommend that you use a pillow or thickly folded blanket to elevate the buttocks to the point where your knees drop to at least the level of your hips. Make sure that you are not sitting against a wall but your spine is straight. 

If you find that cross-legged sitting is too painful you can position yourself against a wall for support. When your legs get tired, you can extend them out in front of you. Gradually, you can build up your flexibility so you can sit through Yoga positions and meditation. For those of us with physical limitations a chair sitting posture is perfectly acceptable.

1) Use a sturdy armless chair and sit near the front edge of the seat without leaning against the back. If your legs are not perpendicular with the floor you either need to put a phone back under your feet or your buttocks.
2) Rest your hands in you lap with your palms facing up.
3) Lift your chest and balance your head over your torso so you can feel the alignment in your spine.

Easy Posture

The recommended posture for beginners is the Easy Posture. This position is a steady and easy position for both Kundalini breathing exercises and meditation.

1) Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you.
2) Cross your legs at the ankles with the left leg on top of the right leg below.
3) Now position your palms on your knees and push inward so that the right foot is underneath the left knee and the left foot is underneath the right knee.
4) Lengthen the spine by lifting the chest and balance your head over your torso so you can feel the alignment in your spine.
 

Perfect Posture (Lotus position)

A more advanced posture is sometimes referred to as the Lotus Position or the Perfect Posture. This posture is very helpful for men with prostate problems as it opens the first and second Chakra regions. The perfect posture also improves flexibility in the ankles, knees and especially the hips. It will also strengthen the back and help to deepen the meditative state of awareness. Sit on the floor with legs straight out in front of you, arms to the sides, and shake out your legs to loosen the muscles.

1) Bend your left knee and bring the heel into the groin, near the perineum. Stabilize your left ankle with your left hand.
2) Bend your right knee and slide your right heel toward the front of your left ankle.
3) Lift your right foot and position your right ankle just above your left ankle and bring your right heel into the genital area.
4) Tuck the small toe side of your right foot between your left thigh and calf.
5) Gently place your hands with your palms facing upward on your knees.
6) Lengthen your spine by lifting the chest and balancing the head over the torso so you can feel the alignment in your spine.

Inversions

Do not attempt an inversion if you have high blood pressure, hiatus hernia, glaucoma, or neck problems. In addition if you are overweight you should use your best judgment. Also caution should be used if you are balancing against a mirrored or glass surface.

An inversion is a position where the normal upright position of the body is reversed as in the headstand or handstand or shoulderstand.

Inversions are different from other Yoga postures, which are called Asanas.

Inversions are actually a Mudra in that the life energy force is retained.

These are the most powerful of all yoga postures for promoting good health in the body and strengthening the internal organs.

There are many benefits to this type of posture. It has been scientifically proven that when men or women either stand on their head or lean on their head over the edge of a bed for at least 15 seconds per day, hair growth is stimulated. The ancient Yoga masters knew this, even thousands of years ago.

By defying gravity you can reverse the effects of aging, and improve your overall health.

Lymph, which is a clear yellowish fluid that circulates throughout your body, is pulled downward by gravity during the course of a given day.

Inversions clear the lymphatic passageways and revitalize your entire body.

The positive effects of inversions on the endocrine system include:

1) Facing fears
2) Adapting a positive approach to life
3) Lucidity and creativity
4) Longevity

Before doing an inversion there are some things to consider. Due to the necks vulnerability, you should precede doing these postures with the

Opening Bell (Sun Salutation) that is described in our recommended Yoga program.

Inversions will be explained in detail in the Yoga Workout section at the

end of this chapter.

Light-headedness may occur while doing inversions so it is recommended that you start out slowly and gradually increase the time you hold your positions.

After an inversion it is recommended that you assume the Child’s Pose Posture see Start by kneeling on your hands and knees

1) Place your knees hip width, hands below your shoulders
2) As you exhale, sit back onto your heels, keeping the tops of your feet flat on the floor. Bend forward at the hips with your chest on your thighs and your forehead on the floor
3) Lay your arms on the floor besides your torso, palms up
4) Close your eyes and breath slowly and gently 

You should try to remain in all positions for at least thirty seconds. You can gradually increase the length of time you hold a pose. If you feel any pain or discomfort please discontinue immediately.

Twists

Spinal twists are very important for strengthening the spine, improving circulation and massaging internal organs. Unfortunately for people with disk problems, these exercises are not appropriate.

Tips for Beginning Yoga Practice


Before beginning your Yoga practice you'll need to consider some practical details.

When To Practice

It is helpful to practice once a day. Practicing first thing in the morning is best because it helps prepare you for the day. Also if you put your practice off until later in the day, you may never get to it. And it is best to practice on an empty stomach. Before dinner is also a good time as long as you don't get distracted.

Where to Practice

You should practice in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. If you attend a Yoga class, remember that Yoga is about going within and not about competition. Be forgiving of the condition of your body and take pride in your gradual accomplishments.

How Long To Practice

The Yoga program in this book should take about an hour for the exercises and fifteen minutes for the meditation. You can extend or condense the time depending on how long you will be holding your positions. I have built up to about 60 seconds in each pose. Beginners may want to start out with 15 second intervals on and off. Remember that you should always be breathing in the positions.

What To Wear:

Comfortable, loose-fitting clothing is a must. A few blankets are also helpful because as you go into deep states of meditation your body temperature will lower as a result of your metabolic processes slowing down. In addition I recommend a thick rubber mat, which can be purchased at a sporting good store. Your Yoga instructor will also have straps to help you reach certain positions. Practice in your stocking feet or bare feet.

What To Look At

In general, keep your eyes shut except when in standing or balancing positions. Imagine an Olympic high diver before he jumps. His eyes are open but he is not focused on anything in particular. He has gone within.

What To Focus Your Mind OnWhen you start your Yoga practice you will be primarily focused on what to do with your body. As your practice develops the positions will feel more natural and you will begin to gain control over your awareness. Yoga for Healthy Living includes a series of positive affirmations, which can be your focus as you hold your positions. Eventually you may let go of these as well and just focus on the breathing or a mantra. A mantra is a repeated phrase that is like a boat, guiding you past your thoughts into the meditative state. Mantras will be discussed in more detail in the Chapter 7.

Food To Eat

There is an inherent intelligence in food. In our attempt to improve efficiency in food production we have sacrificed quality for quantity. The law of cause and effect is clearly demonstrated by our food industry. Perhaps it is not just red wine that gives Europeans better health but their lifestyle and relationship to food. The fast-food mentality is harmful to our collective health.

If we look to the animal kingdom for guidance, we notice that there is no incidence of osteoporosis because they follow their natural instincts. If we can get in touch with our natural instincts, then many diseases, which are the results of lifestyle choices, can be avoided.

The wisdom of our physiology has provided us with six tastes:

  • Sweet: Pasta, bread, wheat, grains, meat, fish, seafood, fruits
  • Sour: Milk, yogurt, lemon, vinegar and all salad dressings
  • Salt: Self-Explanatory
  • Bitter: Green leafy vegetables such as spinach
  • Astringent: Beans, lentils, tofu
  • Pungent: Spices, mustard

Ayurveda, the science of life, was developed in conjunction with Yoga, the science of union with the divine. Ayurvedic nutrition recommends that we have at least one meal a day that includes all six tastes. The reason we have so many problems with obesity and health is that the typical American diet is out of balance. It is primarily sweet, sour, and salt: French fries and ketchup. When we utilize all the tastes that nature has provided us we can come back into balance. In addition to more fruit and vegetables we need to add new food groups, like soy and legumes, to our diets.

Reducing consumption of meat will lower testosterone levels, aiding in the fight against cancer. In addition studies have shown that meat consumption increases aggressiveness. For maximum benefits to your Yoga practice and meditation I recommend reducing meat consumption and substituting fish, especially fatty fish such as salmon, and soy products.

Fasting

Fasting may also be useful in helping you to change your eating habits permanently and for cleansing of toxicity built up over a lifetime. I recommend fasting only if you have the guidance of a teacher and you coordinate your fasting with your doctor. A fast may enhance your appreciation of eating and all of the wonderful natural foods that are available to you.

It is most important to eat more slowly and to be present in the moment when you are eating. Being aware will help you avoid eating to satisfy emotions. Properly chewing your food and pacing yourself will help you avoid many stomach problems and weight management issues. These benefits will ultimately improve your Yoga practice.

Dry Body Brush

Starting your day with a two-minute full body and scalp massage with a natural fiber brush will improve circulation and can reduce hair loss. You can purchase such a brush at your local health food store. Start with the scalp and work down over the back, then chest, arms, buttocks and pelvis, legs, and feet.

Attitude

Your journey can be successful only if you approach Yoga practice with an open mind. You will need to suspend judgment, criticism, doubt, perfectionism, and competition, and replace such negative thoughts with acceptance, compassion, and dogged persistence. You will need to listen to your body and do not attempt to push yourself before you are ready. There should be gain without pain.

Do not feed your mind images and thoughts that will agitate it. You may want to avoid the melodrama of the daily news or images of violence and distress. This doesn’t mean that you should be aloof from suffering, but you can deal with it more effectively from a place of detachment.

Health Benefits of Yoga


Our country is currently facing yet another health care crisis. Despite the spread of managed care medical expenses continue to surge. This rise has forced many companies to reduce or eliminate health benefits, increasing the percentage of the population that is not covered by insurance. In addition, overall satisfaction with the heath care industry is declining, and a larger and larger percentage of the population is critical of managed care. The dissatisfaction has grown so great that is has ignited a movement on Capitol Hill for a “patient’s bill of rights”.

The Effect of Stress in the US

  • Stress is America’s number one health problem costing the U.S. economy $300 billion annually
  • 43 percent of all adults suffer health problems caused by stress
  • 75 to 90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints or disorders.
  • Stress is responsible for more than half of the 550 million workdays lost to absenteeism annually.
  • A three-year study by a large corporation showed that more than 60 percent of employee absences were caused by psychological problems such as stress.
  • Worker’s compensation costs for stress have skyrocketed and threaten to bankrupt the system. In California alone the costs from such claims now exceed $1 billion annually. Nine out of ten job stress lawsuits are successful, with an average payout of more than four times that of regular injury claims.
  • 40 percent of all worker turnover is the result of job stress.
  • Workplace violence is rampant. Homicide is the second leading cause of fatal occupational injury and the leading cause of death for working women.
  • Immune disturbances from the common cold and herpes to arthritis and AIDS have been linked to stress. Recent research has confirmed the important role stress plays in causing cardiovascular disease, cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, skin conditions, neurological and emotional disorders
  • The market for stress management programs, products, and services amounted to over $10 billion in the year 2000.
  • The pace of the world pushes us at breakneck speeds. Those in fast-track careers in corporate America are often overcome by stress. Even for those not on a fast track, juggling the responsibilities of raising kids when both parents are working can be extremely difficult. As commuting time keeps increasing, we have less and less time for ourselves.
  • We are constantly being bombarded with all sorts of stimuli, which require our immediate attention. The fight or flight response is often triggered, and a chemical change ensues that affects every cell in our bodies. The continuous release of the hormone adrenaline can wreak havoc on a body.
  • Both in the workplace and at home, we are often overwhelmed, and their immune systems respond in ways that lead to a lack of energy, grumpiness, increased absenteeism, chronic illness, work-related injuries, and turnover. These effects not only harm the bottom line of the company but the well-being of the family and the quality of life.

Numerous studies have identified the following factors have the most effect on stress in men:

  • Death of a spouse or family member
  • Divorce/separation/marital Conflicts
  • Injury or health issue for individual or family member
  • Balancing work-family responsibilities
  • Workplace issues; i.e. termination, performance, etc
  • Retirement
  • Sexual Difficulties
  • Moving

A study conducted in Australia recently showed how well families function effects the quality of life and perception of illness for families with asthmatic children.

The Yoga for Healthy Living program provides you with tools you can use daily to better cope with stressful events so you can maintain your own health and the health of your family by:

Enhancing your own self understanding and thereby setting the tone for harmonious loving relationships within the family

Improving your ability to adapt to changes and cope with special needs or challenges.

Preventing family breakdowns by providing tools for you to use in coping with the changing roles and demands on your life, so that you can develop a loving attitude toward fulfilling your responsibilities to your family.

Yoga can help lower these statistics and begin decreasing levels of stress. By relearning that authority and power are equated with productivity, integrity, and creativity in the workplace, employees will feel empowered and willing to embrace the organization's goals. As a result, customer relationships will improve and the organization will prosper.

In many cases it’s not the individuals' lack of education or technical training that hinders the growth of a company but in their approach to dealing with customers and employees. Yoga and meditation can change the way we interact with others, not only at work but also at home. All will welcome the daily benefits from these improved relationships.

Industries may come and go, so may businesses, but if we stay flexible we can re-create ourselves daily and develop the goods and services demanded by the marketplace. We need to learn not to fear change but to embrace it. By letting go of the fear we can become more effective in addressing the needs of our clients and customers and in motivating our employees to share our vision of the future. When we focus on giving, our family relationships will improve and our sex lives will be enhanced.

Yoga can help transport you to a more calming and comforting reality. All you need is an open mind and the desire to make minor changes in your life. Your body is in a constant state of change. At the cellular level you are re-creating yourself every few months. Yoga can make you more flexible and adaptable to changes in your life and in the world around you.

Back in the eighties I was pursuing a fast-track career in corporate America; when I came down with an ulcer that almost put me in the hospital, I knew I had to start making some life changes. Perhaps like many of you I had always associated Yoga with left-wing refugees from the sixties. I believed it was an escape from reality. But I found that Yoga connects us to the present by quieting the mind's thoughts about the past and the future. I found it difficult at first to train my mind to stop thinking about the past and the future. In a world focused on the bottom line, we become biased toward observable, tangible action. Practicing Yoga can help you overcome the bias of your senses and social conditioning at work and at home. Both men and women can learn to practice Yoga and meditation to improve the quality of their lives.

The daily practice of Yoga can help you become more productive in your career and more peaceful in your personal life. Ultimately Yoga can help you enjoy your life more fully. What form of physical exercise does all this? What physical activity can you do anywhere, any time, without any investment in equipment? It’s like having your shrink, place of worship, and health club all rolled into one. The perfect combination for any man or woman.

The International Association of Yoga Therapists prepared Table 1.1. For each physiological change associated with Yoga it lists corresponding psychological and biochemical changes.

Table 1.1 Benefits Of Yoga

 
Physiological Benefits
Psychological Benefits
Biochemical Effects

Autonomic nervous system equilibrium stabilizes, with a tendency toward parasympathetic nervous system dominance rather than the usual stress-induced sympathetic nervous system dominance

Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increase

Glucose decreases

Pulse rate decreases

Mood improves and subjective well-being increases

Sodium decreases

Respiratory rate decreases

Self-acceptance and self-actualization increase

Total cholesterol decreases

Blood pressure decreases (of special significance for hyporeactors)

Social adjustment increases

Triglycerides decrease

Galvanic skin response (GSR) increases

Anxiety and depression decrease

HDL cholesterol increases

EEG - Alpha brain waves increase (theta, delta, and beta waves also increase during various stages of meditation)

Hostility decreases

LDL cholesterol decreases

EMG activity decreases

Psychomotor functions improve

VLDL cholesterol decreases

Cardiovascular efficiency increases

Grip strength increases

Cholinesterase increases

Respiratory efficiency increases (respiratory amplitude and smoothness increase, tidal volume increases, vital capacity increases, breath-holding time increases)

Dexterity and fine motor skills improve

Catecholamines decrease

Gastrointestinal function normalizes

Eye-hand coordination improves

ATPase increases

Endocrine function normalizes

Choice reaction time improves

Hematocrit increases

Excretory functions improve

Steadiness improves

Hemoglobin increases

Musculoskeletal flexibility and joint range of motion increase

Depth perception improves

Lymphocyte count increases

Posture improves

Balance improves

Total white blood cell count decreases

Strength and resiliency increase

Integrated functioning of body parts improves

Thyroxin increases

Endurance increases

Cognitive function improves

Vitamin C increases

Energy level increases

Attention improves

Total serum protein increases

Also, weight normalizes, Concentration improves, Sleep improves, Memory improves, Immunity increases, Learning efficiency improves, Pain decreases, Symbol coding improves, Depth perception improves, and Flicker fusion frequency improves

My first Yoga class was an accident. A friend invited me to her exercise class. When I arrived I realized it was Yoga, and I was the only male. It had already started when we got there so it was too late for me to leave. I figured I would just go along with it, and go to the gym for a real man’s workout later that afternoon. But in five minutes I was sweating and panting on the floor, while the other women in the class gracefully glided from one pose to another. How could this be? I realized that Yoga wasn’t for sissies.

I had tried many other forms of exercise, but I never achieved my fitness goals because I was not breathing correctly. Yoga taught me how to breathe, and then I was able to achieve my physical potential. I may not be Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I have a better body now than when I was sixteen.

Table 1.2 Advantages Of Yoga Compared To Traditional Exercise

Yoga
Exercise

Parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response)

Sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response)

Subcortical regions of the brain (associated with well-being) Yoga can help reversing or eliminating addictive behavior)

Cortical regions of the brain (associated with primary functions)

Slow, dynamic movements

Rapid, forceful movements

Normalization of muscle tone

Increased muscle tension

Low risk of injuring muscles and ligaments

Higher risk of injuring muscles and ligaments

Low caloric consumption

Moderate to high caloric consumption

Effort minimized, relaxed

Effort maximized

Energizing (breathing is kept natural or controlled)

Fatiguing (breathing is taxed)

Balanced activity of opposing muscle groups

Imbalanced activity of opposing muscle groups

Noncompetitive, process-oriented

Competitive, goal-oriented

Internal awareness

External awareness

Limitless possibilities for growth in self-awareness

Boredom factor

Prepared by the International Association of Yoga Therapists. Reprinted with Permission of IAYT. Copyright 1999 Trish Lamb Feurstein

Some people have the mistaken notions that Yoga is painful and that Yogis are just masochists in turbans. I too had these preconceptions but I soon realized that pain was a judgment I was placing on a feeling I was unaccustomed to. When I stopped judging that feeling as painful I began to excel. Now I think of it as surrender. When you reach advanced levels of Yoga you can stretch yourself into positions where you can finally surrender to something greater than yourself, and it feels great. In a way it's similar to orgasm. Do you consider the tension that precedes an orgasm painful? If you succumb to the feeling you judge as painful, you will never experience the bliss of inner peace that Yoga can provide.

This book offers an introduction to various Yogic exercises, which you can use as the basis for your daily Yoga practice. It will take you through each pose and give you specific instructions on positioning your body and the focusing your mind. This book should be enjoyable and humorous. Various positions have been renamed and customs modified so you can enjoy the learning process. Chapter 7 offers a meditation I developed to help you incorporate positive changes into your life.

The photographs show an advanced practitioner to give you an appreciation of your potential. In addition there are instructions for Yoga positions that can be performed in the workplace and modified positions for beginners and those with physical limitations. The Yoga practices in this book are somewhat eclectic and draw upon the ancient traditions of Hatha including: Ananda, Sivananda, and Tantra of which Kundalini is an integral part.

I invite you to join me on this journey of self-discovery and personal improvement. With persistence and hard work you can achieve your peak physical condition, improve your performance on the job, and possibly better understand the purpose of your life. Is our souls' journey merely to accumulate material possessions, or is there a deeper meaning? Ultimately the goal of Yoga is to integrate your practice into daily living so that each step you make, each breath you take is done with mindfulness. In this way your life becomes a meditation in action and fundamental enlightenment is possible.

I hope to inspire you with my words and encourage you to proceed.

As you begin this journey I offer you this Hebrew blessing: "May the spirit of the divine be with you all of the days of your life."

Love, Peace, Namaste

The Benefits of Yoga at Home and the Office


In our fast-paced environment many people, are under tremendous stress. Stress triggers the fight or flight response in which toxic chemicals are released. Over time this constant stress reaction can compromise the immune system. Practicing Yoga not only can help improve daily performance of activities and enhance creative problem solving but also has the potential to control escalating health care costs.

Yoga is a form of exercise for the body, mind, and spirit. The ancients produce a perfectly bundled, multitasked, and time-efficient practice that can address all our needs, and modern science is beginning to confirm the validity of their philosophical designs. Yoga strengthens the joints without stress, increases lean muscle mass, and enhances flexibility in the body. Yoga can also provide an effective cardiovascular workout as well as improve breathing and metabolization of food and oxygen. Yoga can enhance sexual performance and strengthen orgasm. Yoga has been shown to benefit overall health and functioning of internal organs and tissues.

Yoga also develops discipline and self-confidence. Yoga can help you to become more intuitive, creative, and synchronistic. Finally, for students seeking to understand meaning in their life, Yoga can transport you to a state of Dharma, where you understand the purpose of your soul's journey and the true nature of the universe.

Many people take better care of their cars than they do themselves. Because they are usually devoted to caring for their families and others, they often fail to address their own health issues and in doing so put their families and themselves at risk.

The majority of people I meet are not using all their personal assets in the pursuit of their careers. Often they are using primarily only one hemisphere of their brain's, relying on only one of their senses, failing to provide the proper resources for their bodies, and rarely if ever engaging in quiet contemplation to find answers from their higher power. If a business were run this way the management would be quickly replaced. As individuals we don’t have to fear such a takeover, unless of

course we believe in alien abductions. Most of us do, however, want to realize our full potential, as co-creators of the Universe.

Leonardo daVinci is the perfect example of an individual that had realized his full potential. In his pursuit of understanding the mysteries of divine creation he applied Yogic principles hundreds of years ago. When asked about his success he responded this way:

I understand the Art of Science, right brain thinking.

I understand the Science of Art, left brain thinking.

I use all my senses when I create.

I understand my purpose in life

As a CPA and an MBA I have always lectured my clients on how they must maximize the use of their assets to be competitive. In most companies, especially those in the technology sector, the greatest asset is human capital. However our current financial accounting models ignore this most important element of a business. The result is that we have not devoted adequate resources to our employees, and the valuation of our companies has been distorted. Many large corporations are now beginning to devote resources to preventive health programs, such as in house Yoga classes. Yoga can serve as a catalyst to accelerate and unify this.

By combining what I have learned about Yoga and business I have developed a program for men and women that integrates the two and demystifies this ancient Eastern philosophy. As a successful entrepreneur I have found that the concepts of Yoga and business are congruent. Both are based upon an organic interpretation of the organization and the human being as changing and not static. The only certainty is change, and business organizations that understand these principles have the greatest longevity. In my volunteer work as a Yoga instructor working with cancer survivors I have noticed that there is a parallel with individuals: Longevity in humans is linked to adaptability to change.

The fear of change is our greatest obstacle because it keeps us locked into rigid patterns of behavior and prevents us from reaching our potential. We fear change because at a very subtle level all fears are related to our mortality. But, we can learn to welcome uncertainty and the unknown as opportunities to pursue our creativity. Yoga is the ideal exercise to reprogram your body and mind toward flexibility and adaptability. Many of the Yogic exercises in my book "Yoga for Men" have been renamed using terms from business, such as Deflating a Bloated Bureaucracy, Bending Over Backward to Serve Your Customers, and Firm Footing in a Changing Marketplace and my favorite, the headstand, which is Change From The Top Down. In addition, for some positions have modifications for those with physical limitations.

In Yoga the focus of your mind is as important as the physical position. Yoga is a moving meditation, and each position reflects a state of awareness, a relationship or attitude toward the universe. Your body is the antenna or receiving channel, and these exercises will open you to creative ideas and solutions to problems.

In order to change and have the freedom to create, businesses typically allocate a percentage of their revenue to research and development. These companies understand that to stay on the cutting edge they will have to upgrade their technology. Often individuals don’t afford themselves the same opportunity. We get locked into a material lifestyle where we feel a need to compete with our neighbors. This causes us to run faster and faster on the treadmill just to keep up. We do not allocate either the resources or the time for personal growth because we are spending to feed a lifestyle. Many people trade themselves for their self-image, thereby depleting their personal assets.

Our personal assets are body, mind, and spirit. The ultimate goal of Yoga is a union of the three. The meditative state of heightened awareness is the ultimate goal of these exercises. Enlightenment confers many benefits, including finding your purpose (Dharma), understanding your latent talents, experiencing synchronicity, discovering your Karma and how it can be transmuted, and understanding your place as a co-creator of the Universe.

All this talk about spirit might make you a bit uneasy. But please try to suspend your criticism and keep an open mind. Doing so is like hedging a position in the market. You are covering your downside risk. The spiritual exercises and development will at a minimum make you feel more effective in the world, and perhaps, they will give you a glimpse of something far grander.

Yoga is not a religion; it is a philosophy and a science. Developed thousands of years ago it is a systematic approach to wellness and communion with the divine. It seeks to unify and treat all paths and journeys toward enlightenment with respect and admiration. Yoga is cosmic awareness, pure consciousness, which is beyond body, mind, time and space. It will make your life better

Currently humankind is looking for clues to our origins in the deep regions of outer space. Science tells us that we are stardust, made of recycled elements that existed as one point of energy at the beginning of the Universe. The intelligence of the Universe flows through every cell of your body, and the answers to the mysteries can be found within.

Through Yoga you can more easily achieve your potential, create unlimited wealth, and obtain self-actualization. Come join me for an inner journey to rediscover the self. I am confident that you will enjoy the journey.

Bruce's Yoga for Healthy Living Four Step Program for Individual & Organizational Wellness


Step One: Discovering the Inner Comic

I feel pretty good…But I used to feel like a shleppy Jewish Accountant when I would get the 6:30 train to come into the “City” to do your taxes….

My life got really interesting when I married this Greek Orthodox Mormon Cosmetic Opera Singer from Utah …God If my life were a movie it might be called the Night Jerry Seinfeld met the New Age Marie Osmond at Zorba’s Alchohol Free Restaurant. Not only do I have a demanding Jewish mother with a split personality, but an ex-wife who has sucked the lifeblood out of me, an a ex-mother-in-law that put a contract out on my life, and five mother-in-laws from the Polygamist state of Utah that hate Jews and like to throw plates. So to piss them all off I quit my Jewish job as an Accountant and became a Yoga Instructor working with men who have Erectile Dysfunctions. Now they’re all confused.

But the worst thing is whenever I get into a fight with my wife the mother in laws start running personal ads in the Salt Lake City Tribune that read something like this.

Oppressed Mormon Woman with a Biological Clock Deadline Seeks Mormon Knight to Rescue Her From Her Cheap Jew Husband Who Won’t Give Her Any Kids

I remember how jealous my parents were as a child growing up when they would learn that there friends were getting a divorce….The Weinbergs are getting divorced…their happy….they have money…we’re poor so we got to stay together and be miserable till death do us part.

If my parents life were a movie it would be called The Adventures of “Sybil” and “I am Sam”. It wasn’t so bad when Sybil was Nancy, a schoolgirl aged 12, but when Sybil was Mimi, a demanding Jewish American Princess, things got downright ugly.

“I am Sam but I never know who you are….Why can’t you just follow a schedule Nancy on Monday Wednesday and Friday and Mimi on Tuesday and Thursday.”

The problem was we got a lot more Mimi and a lot less Nancy as time went on.

So my father also used to talk about suicide. He would say that he wished he had a garage so that he could go out in style.

So when I grew up I chose a career where I could afford a divorce and an assisted suicide and I got this huge two-car garage that Dr. Kervorkian helped me renovate so when my kids get ready to ship me off to the home… and you know they will because my Jewish American Princesses aren’t going to change my Depends…I can get the last laugh.

You know humor is a great waS to heal the pain we have experienced in our lives. With humor, I am trying to transform my pain into a more meaningful experience like: A spot on the Lenno Show, a house in Beverly Hills, and vacations at the Betty Ford Clinic.

So the Raja Rama a character I created for healing says, “uncover the pain, honor it, laugh out loud and get on with your life.”

Moral of the Story:

We can’t live life without experiencing some form of pain; it is part of the human experience. Pain gives meaning to our life’s journey and can lead us back to the path of growth and the pursuit of our life’s purpose. Humor can help us to honor the pain and acknowledge it. Unfortunately most of us repress our pain and emotions anesthetizing ourselves with addictions such as alcohol, drugs, food, nicotine, sex, money, material possessions, work, relationships, etc. In my own life I went through a series of addictions. You name the addiction…I had it. In fact, I was even addicted to my therapist.

Many psychiatrists, psychologists and pharmaceutical companies think we should all be taking daily doses of Prozac; but again, this is just another addiction causing the power to be taken from you. What we really need is to get in touch with our true feelings, which is what the addiction is preventing us from doing in the first place. Yoga practice allows us to evaluate our emotions and feelings from a balanced, objective place. Overcoming our addictions is one of the spiritual lessons we come to experience in this life. Will we have the courage to admit that we have these addictions, and will we have the courage to take the action necessary?

I have found that people facing life-challenging illnesses are most willing to dispense with the denial process because it is obviously no longer serving their best interests. In working as a yoga therapist with cancer patients I have found it very important to begin to unlock the energy blockages in the body because all of our experiences get manifested in our physiology. Therefore I consider the use of humor to be the first step in healing and healthy living. So as a first exercise construct your own comedy act. You may want to take a few painful experiences from your life and exaggerate them. Humor is often about creating absurdity out of the stuff of everyday life. Sometimes our lives are absurd. In these cases you will not have to be as creative. I have provided about half a page for your act. Please fill in your name. I suggest you may want to share your act with a friend or co-worker. Sharing can be especially healing because it allows us to better understand each other’s challenges and past journey. However, do not feel obligated to share. We also will be running a contest for the best Inner Comic. Please submit your submissions to www.yogaforbusiness.com.

_______________’s Comedy Act:

You know if my life were a movie it would be called _________________________ (visit the www.fandango.com site under Hot Movies and choose from a genre. Your life may fall into one of these categories; Action, Comedy, Drama, Suspense, Romance, Family, Sci-fi or Art House. Once you have chosen your category you can search through an alphabetical listing of movies in your category to find the one that best fits your life.)

(Go ahead and complain like my Jewish Grandmother) Not only do I have a _____________________ but a _____________________and a ___________________________________ and a _________________________________

(Now write your story. Exaggerate and be absurd with your own faults as well as others in your life.) ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(Now see if you can touch upon the more painful experiences with humor) __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(End by telling what the sequel to your movie will be called) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Step Two: Discovering the Inner Artist

Expressing ourselves through art has also been part of the human experience for tens of thousands of years.

I would like you to honor a painful experience by creating an illustration. Please try not to be judgmental of your artistic ability, just focus on re-creating the painful experience and adding an absurdity to create some space between you and the experience.

These are the pictures I have created for my life.

(Picture 1: “I am Sam” is knocked out cold on the floor and three young children walk over and around him to get to their rooms. One of the children remarks, “It looks like Mimi Ko’ed Sam this time”. Second child, “Yeah she used the round house kick frying pan combo”.

(Picture 2: Sybil has become Zorro. She closes all the blinds so no one will spot her true identity. Inside a young child hides under the couch thinking he can elude the clever Zorro. Zorro spots him and marks him on the arm with her sword. A child has a red Z on his arm).

Please feel free to forward your submissions to www.yogaforbusiness.com and we will choose the best for display.

Once the pain has been uncovered, the more difficult process of forgiveness can begin. Through Yoga and exercises in detachment you can start to experience your life from a place of greater understanding and tolerance. In this way you can create the space to begin to understand the challenges and limitations of those who may have hurt you in the past. We will explore some techniques for accomplishing this later in the book.

Step Three: Discovering Your Inner Musician

There is an underlying vibration throughout the Universe that dates back to the original “Big Bang” some 8-12 billion years ago. There is also a vibration that runs through our physiology that is related to our heartbeat and breathing. Even our thoughts have a sound associated with them. Therefore, everything has its own theme music, no matter how silent it appears.

When our thoughts are out of kilter, they throw off our normally relaxed patterns of breathing, and heartbeat.

As an exercise in breathing and in vibration awareness, I suggest you purchase a basic c chord harmonica. The harmonica is a great instrument because we can make sounds both on the inhalation and exhalation. What I suggest is that you work toward a four second inhalation and an eight second exhalation. This is a very healing interval. By getting six breaths per minute you are training your entire physiology to slow down and assume a healthier beat and rhythm.

To make the exercise even more interesting, you can vary your position on the harmonica using higher notes and lower notes. You can even shake the harmonica in your mouth to create interesting sounds.

I recommend practicing the musical exercise at least five minutes a day until you feel comfortable with breathing intervals. Or feel free to continue to use the harmonica. It is a wonderful instrument, which I have found to be very healing.

Step Four: Loving Your Self

While it is true that as human beings we all need to experience some pain on our journey, there comes a point in time when we no longer need to inflict suffering upon ourselves. Self-love involves understanding that you are complete and whole and not lacking in any regard. You are a microcosm of the universe. A hologram of creation is inside each of us. We all have great power, but we have been afraid to uncover it. The uncovering takes great courage because what I am asking you to do is to step into the silence. This involves tuning out the problems of the world we ultimately wish to solve. Only by creating this distance can you be effective.

In music the silence gives the notes meaning. In your life the silence can do the same. To be effective you must make a commitment now to yourself and your well being to immerse yourself fully in this program. Allocate the time required, which is about an hour each day. I suggest you try the program for a month. I am confident that once you experience the positive changes, you will make it a lifelong pursuit and wonder how you ever survived without it.

There are many forces that don’t want you to uncover your inner power because it will mean that they will lose power over you. Some of the greatest offenders are family members, organized religion, the healthcare industry, business organizations, the media and the government. Unlocking your personal power is one of the great gifts of Yoga practice.

Yoga practice requires discipline, and time. It is so much easier to embark on this path when we have the time and our health is good. Yet we often do not, and wait for a crises or breakdown before we take action. The key to developing the discipline is to practice self-love. You have to love yourself enough to give yourself this time.

In the next series of articles we will provide an introduction to Yoga and how we can unlock some of the blockages in the body with physical postures and meditation.

Food Choices


Shopping in large Supermarket Superstores such as Safeway or A&P make the process of finding specialty items a bit easier.

Starting with the produce section, the following items are recommended for your shopping cart:

  • Broccoli
  • Bok Choy
  • Collards
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Dill
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Scallions
  • Ginger
  • Apples, Oranges and Berries
  • Peeled Garlic in Containers
  • Walnuts peeled

In the salad dressing aisle:

  • Olive Oil
  • Dark Sesame Oil
  • Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Green Olives
  • Oregano
  • Black and Red Pepper

In the tea and coffee aisle the following teas are recommended:

  • Green Tea - has caffeine
  • Peppermint Tea - a natural stimulant
  • Chamomile Tea - a relaxant

Moving on to the cereal and grain aisle the following items are recommended:

  • Bran cereal
  • Rice millet cereal

In the cookie aisle choose cookies like

  • Pamela’s Choc Chunk that are sweetened with fruit juice and are free of animal products.

In the pasta aisle:

  • Pasta
  • Whole grain brown rice
  • Rao’s pasta sauce (Rao’s brand can be expensive, but you can mix it with a less expensive sauce to make it last longer. It is so good that it can make an average meal really special.)

In the dry milk aisle:

  • Rice Dream Enriched Rice Milk
  • Lowfat Milk in the Dairy Section

In the frozen food aisle choose:

  • Vans Waffles
  • Boca Burger Vegan
  • Health is Wealth Tofu Chicken Nuggets

In the sauces aisle:

  • Low sodium soy sauce
  • Safflower
  • Canola low-fat mayonnaise

In the fruit spread aisle:

  • Polaner All Natural Fruit Spread of your choosing. Pick a berry flavor if you are not eating fresh berries on a regular basis.

In the fish aisle try to choose fish that is fresh and not farm raised. I suggest visiting a local fish store for the best selection and freshness. Fresh fish should not have an odor. If it does then do not accept it. The recipes in the following chapters use Salmon, Cod and Halibut.

I have outlined a diet I follow on a regular basis. By slowing down the pace at which you eat you can avoid overeating. Start with portions that are no larger than the size of your fist. If you are still hungry you can add second helpings from the salad and vegetable categories. You may want to start with this basic daily diet framework and then modify it accordingly once you gain a greater awareness of your choices:

Breakfast:

  • Apple
  • Tofu Bar
  • Peppermint Tea

Lunch:

  • Salmon with Brown Rice
  • Salad and Tomatoes with Dressing
  • Miso Soup

Snack:

  • 2 Cookies such as Newmans O’s

Dinner

  • Broccolli, Bok Choy & Tofu in a stir fry with pasta sauce
  • Pasta
  • Salad

Dessert:

  • Apple Pie with Frozen Vanilla Rice Dream
  • Chamomille Tea with soymilk

By following this diet you can get all six of the Ayuervedic tastes with your lunch and very important Omega 3 Fatty Acids from the fish. It may be helpful to eat a rather consistent diet. The digestive system is under less stress when it is prepared for the food it is going to metabolize.

Reducing consumption of meat will reduce testosterone levels. This may aid in reducing the risk of Prostate Cancer for men. In addition studies have shown that meat consumption increases aggressiveness, so cutting back on meat will make you feel better.

Fasting:

I recommend fasting only if you have the guidance of a teacher and you coordinate such activity with your doctor. In my own life I made the decision to make a lifestyle change from being a junk food junkie to becoming a conscious eater. I proceeded to do a nine-day juice fast. I drank a combination of papaya and vegetable juices. Around the fourth day I remember the cat’s food started to smell good. It was very empowering to have that level of control.

When I broke the fast the first food I ate was an apple. It has been my favorite food ever since. The next was Broccoli followed by other fruits and vegetables. The fast was helpful in letting me appreciate eating and all of the wonderful natural foods that are available to us. The fast helped to change my habits permanently and could do the same for you.

There are many misconceptions about diet and health. Each day we get conflicting information from the media. The American Cancer Society has published the following guidelines for healthy eating:

1) The use of alcohol increases the risk of cancer but having a glass of wine with dinner is probably beneficial.

2) Vitamins and antioxidants as supplements do not improve health. It is better to get these nutrients from their source foods

3) Bioengineered foods have not been proven to be unhealthy

4) An excellent source of calcium is green leafy vegetables

5) Cholesterol levels can be lowered by reducing animal source foods in the diet.

6) Cooking methods such as smoking or grilling/frying meat in high temperatures create chemicals that might increase risk of cancer. Techniques such as braising, steaming, poaching or stewing are better.

7) Eating raw meat such as sushi is probable not advisable.

8) Diets high in fats increase cancer risk.

9) Certain dietary fiber such as bran may help to reduce cancer risk.

10) Eating fish such as salmon which are high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids may reduce the risk of cancer

11) The single most important factor in reducing cancer risk is to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

12) There is no evidence that irradiated foods cause cancer.

13) Selenium which is a mineral found in grains may reduce the risk for certain cancers.

14) Soybeans and soybean products such as tofu contain several photochemicals that have a weak estrogenic activity and appear to protect against hormone-dependent cancers. One study has shown a protective effect against prostate cancer and some epidemiological studies demonstrated a reduced incidence of breast cancer.

15) Herbal teas such as green tea, peppermint, and chamomile have been shown to reduce cancer risk in animals.

16) Vitamin E which is found in vegetable oils such as olive oil may lower risk of heart disease and may have a protective effect against prostate cancer.

In this chapter we discussed healthy food choices. We presented a suggested daily diet and backed up our approach with American Cancer Society recommendations. Our approach is one of simplicity and gradual change. So if you can add an apple a day and a piece of tofu, that would be a great start.

In the next chapter we will discuss some simple recipes you can use to prepare healthy flavorful meals.

*You should check with your doctor before embarking on any fast.

© 2006, Bruce Eric Van Horn

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