Future of Yoga

Yoga is complete, permanent, unstained, and immovable. It’s been with humans for thousands of years, it’s here now and always will be. It doesn’t need to grow and certainly doesn’t need an ignoramus like me trying to improve it.

However, the business of yoga is a totally different beast. It’s like all other businesses—they come and go. The business of yoga isn’t important, but the study of yoga is. I’d love to see yoga studios become a place of study, introspection, and reflection, where asana was not offered but lectures, Jnana Yoga, and Karma Yoga were shared.

Yes, of course I will tend to the ‘hustle,’ because after all I am The Godfather of Yoga Rocks. I just have to keep in mind that the great business that I’ve been able to grow can’t take me away from the guy I really need to know. Personally, I’d like to see myself become more involved with the world inside of me that needs some ‘fixing.’ I think of U2 singing ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.’ I don’t want to sing that song and feel that chorus for the rest of my life. I want to find what I have buried away underneath all my insecurities, fears, and attachments.

Where does Yoga need to go in the next decade? Nowhere, but I certainly need to live it more.

Peace
EP

Reprinted from Yoga Journal, September 1, 2017

“There is nothing more powerful than a made-up mind”, Lewis Gordon Pugh. No Sh*t!

I have seen folks bring themselves back from the dead. I have witnessed healing that was thought impossible. I have seen a 180° turn-around physically, emotionally and intellectually in some people. I, myself, have experienced many such turn-arounds. I have gone from being held up at gunpoint in a drug deal gone bad to helping others get sober. I have vowed never to speak to certain people, only to have had quality conversations with them. This all happened because the mind was made-up.

In my profession, I see people daily believing they can’t do something, while it is painfully obvious that they can. Something as simple as stepping their front foot further forward in a warrior pose, or something more difficult, like stepping out of a harmful relationship, have held people hostage. The f**king mind! It can turn a heaven into a hell or a hell into a heaven. All the while it’s doing this, it’s controlling you and not the other way around.

So if a “mind made-up” is the most powerful thing on earth, wouldn’t you want to have it under your control?

First, let’s look at how it’s NOT done. You cannot control the mind by controlling your breath! This is Yoga 101 horse sh*t. The laws of science state “the subtle controls the gross”. For instance, you look at a puppet show and see the puppets. A child sees the puppets and thinks they are all powerful. However, an adult sees the strings and then looks to see what is behind them. He finds there is a human pulling the strings. The puppet is the gross, meaning it’s what is visible to the naked eye. The subtle aspect (less visible and often unseen) is that there are strings moving the puppet and even more subtle, the puppeteer pulling the strings. Hence, the subtle controls the gross.
Your breath is the gross.You can see it and feel it. However, the mind is subtle. In order to actually make a physical choice, “let me breath easy, steady”, your mind has to send the command to the body. Therefore, your body cannot act on its own. To make it clearer, you can absolutely take deep Pranayamic breaths and be insane. The mind is never still. However, it’s impossible to have a clear, steady mind and be a mess. The same is true with asana. You can stand on your head. But still act like your head is in your ass.

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Still not convinced? Then let’s use alcohol as an example. Most people use alcohol to relax. No doubt a glass of wine or two will do the trick. You were stressed out and now, after drinking the wine, you are relaxed. The question is, are you really relaxed? No! What you have experienced is a temporary physical conditioned response to the alcohol, which makes you “feel” relaxed. However, once the alcohol wears off, the stress returns.

Be honest, isn’t this what you feel with your physical yoga practice? A breath and asana class can make you feel great. But then those not-so-great feelings return. The physical cannot change the mental. The asana and the pranayama are both physical. So if breath work, asana and meditation (a whole other discussion) do not control the mind, what does?

Sadly, when asked this question at dozens of yoga conferences, festivals and studios, not a single yoga teacher can answer it. Can you?
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Ironically it’s not taught in a 200, 300, 400 or 500 hour yoga teacher training program. It’s not taught anywhere. Simply because the equipment in question is unknown to us and, as a result, very weak.

We are not asking the the right questions. No one is thinking. We take in all the information we are learning and we believe it. Why? Because we either agree with what is being said, or we like the person speaking to us. We reject it, because we do not like what is being shared, or we do not like the person who is sharing it. With all the powerful personalities in the yoga world and with our genuine desperation to learn, it makes for a very dangerous combination; equating incorrect information shared as being the truth.

So what am I talking about? The human Intellect in Sanskrit is called the Buddhi, which means “that which questions”. The gross intellect can question anything in the world. But it’s the subtle intellect that asks, “what’s beyond the world?”. It recognizes our likes, our dislikes, our emotions, and makes choices far beyond the whims and fancies of those emotions. It stands above our ego, which is the producer of inferiority and superiority complexes, fears and anxiety. I have a saying “no more ego, no more problems”. We all have this intellect. But like any other muscle, unless you work it, it won’t work for you.

Long before Hatha yoga came on the scene, the three yogas that are the foundation for the emotional, intellectual and personality transformations, were created. One of them being Gnana Yoga, which builds the intellect. This is the yoga of knowledge. It is not what you are studying necessarily that builds the intellect.

There are many well-read people. However, when you read without using your intellect, you cannot be objective, reflective or introspective. Your mind will look for what it wants to hear. Or reject what it does not like. When we learn from that channel, we misunderstand what yoga is, what it can do for us, and how to practice it (re-read this last sentence).

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A book, not a blog, is needed to help undo all the misconceptions and properly reset the mission of a yogi. Actually there are two books: The Fall of The Human Intellect and Vedanta Treatise, both written by A. Parthasarathy. These books were written solely for the development of the intellect. In them we are given explicit “how to” instructions…

1. Wake up 60 minutes before you normally do in the a.m. (unless you already wake up at 4 a.m.). The ideal time to study is somewhere between 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. Or just get started by waking up earlier than normal! If not 60 minutes, then 30 minutes, or even 10 minutes earlier will work. Do whatever your mind will allow. Once you build the intellect, your mind will no longer own you! Read slowly and only a small amount at a time. Think about the information you read. Try to extract what the author is saying. Do not try to make it your own (yet). Let it sit, assimilate and digest.

2. Formulate questions and take nothing for granted. Question everything, especially what you are reading, including this blog. However, you need a guide to answer your questions.

Because, by just asking yourself, you are likely to be talking to the mind, which only will produce answers it wants to hear. How will you know? You won’t. You need a guide and question the guide too.

3. Introspection: This is an amazing exercise. Take five minutes before going to bed and retrace your steps of the day. Do not analyze, just observe. The genius behind this is, that once you make a habit of doing this at night, you will begin to “see” what you are doing in the day. Ever wonder why it is said “hindsight is 20/20”? This is because, after we take action, our intellect then appears. Where was it at the time of action? Our mind held it hostage. As you build your intellect, you will have it available at all times. You will never need hindsight, because you will have real insight.

No more inner conflicts or second guessing. No more “knowing and not doing”. No more “missing what’s right in front of us”. You will be on point, steady, objective, effective, efficient and free with a strong intellect. This means YOU make up your mind. Your mind does not make you up.

Since “nothing is more powerful than a made-up mind”, you will be powerful. Doesn’t this sound amazing? It is amazing! Now you have the formula to make it so. So do it!

Peace,
EP

Posted – Telluride Yoga Festival

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once”, William Shakespeare.

Justin would have hated being glorified today. He never understood why people loved him. Why they listened to him, or even why they wanted to be around him. But we do.

When we saw Justin, we saw a hunk of a man very much like…. me! We saw a genius very much like…. me! We saw a fighter unlike…. me. I’m soft… he was fucking valiant, not in the old fashion sense of the word. He gave it its own meaning.

Most of us will never know what Justin felt daily and he would not have wanted us to. Life was not easy for him. He was different. He did not get the same pleasures from life that most do. But he tried and tried. He fought and fought. He told me he was most comfortable being a thug! But for his family, for himself, he became a yoga teacher! He went from crushing skulls to teaching flows and saving souls.

Eric and Justin growing

He brought thousands of people a slice of joy, a bit of comfort, a safe place to be themselves. One of the best moments of his teaching career was when he was playing his music too loud in our Birmingham studio. We shared a wall with an art dealer. The art dealer came into the studio twice asking Justin to turn the music down. The first time Justin complied.. a little (if he really complied, I would not have a juicy story to tell). The second time the man opened the yoga room door yelling, “turn the music down”. The yoga students were turned in the other direction. So they did not see the man or hear him. Justin grabbed the guy by the wrists and flung him out of the room. He then told him, “if you enter the studio again, I will snap your neck”. Ten minutes later there was another knock at the studio door. This time it was the police. Justin had to keep teaching class while the police were trying to charge him with assault and threatening physical harm. In between the cops asking him, “did you put your hands on Mr. So and So and did you threaten to snap his neck”, Justin would shout out to the class, “keep breathing and come from a place of love”. What yoga teacher gets arrested while teaching, gets out of it and keeps the class moving without them ever knowing what happened? Only Justin. He had a heroism that was unorthodox. He had a sensitivity that was surprisingly soft. He should of died many times; car wrecks, ass whoopings, drugs. But only cowards die many times before their death. He was valiant and has only tasted it this once.

Justin, as many of you know, joined a cult in 2008. Oh, I mean an ashram. The cult leader, I mean the teacher, Swami Parthasarathy, was one of the few people Justin truly tried to give himself to. He had a profound respect for Swamiji. Some of our best times together were at the ashram, not necessarily learning. But with a full house of Indians, many of whom were celibate or virgins, we told stories about our sexual encounters, drug deals, heists we pulled and other entertaining topics. No one laughed harder, louder, or longer than we did at the ashram. But when Swamiji spoke, we were dead silent. We ate up every word and with no doubt, Justin was a spiritual warrior. But that did not stop him from being adventurous there.

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Once we went with the cricket team to Malaysia. We drifted off in the day and found some great vegan restaurants and gyms. I got a bit bored. So I came up with a brilliant idea to take off and go to Thailand. We did not tell anyone, because we did not want to bother them (not). In Thailand, while Justin was in the middle of a three year course in India, he met some nice ladies (you know what I mean). We were arrested twice and dined and ditched a few times. We both knew a few days there were a few too long. Upon this “realization”, I switched our plane tickets and we rushed to the airport.. oops, I drove us two hours to the wrong airport… I wish I wrote down all the lovely names Justin called me. There were some great ones. Once back in Malaysia, Swamiji, for the first and last time, ripped me to pieces. But it was the best time we had ever spent together, well worth the scolding.

Justin was given his own “rules” at the ashram, not because he could not follow their rules, well maybe it was exactly because of that! But Swamiji understood that Justin had one of the brightest, subtle intellects in the world. It was just a bit covered. The whole place was behind him and cherished him. So when I was searching for words about J, I texted Swamiji’s assistant and asked “is there any way Swamiji can write something about life or death? Anything that he sees fit..?” One minute later, in the middle of the night in India, Swamiji wrote:

“Matthew Arnold says, “life is an arrow shot from the darkness, flutters in the light for a while and vanishes back into the darkness”. We must acknowledge that this young man’s glitter was brilliant. He was a soul loved by all of us and it is pity that he left us so young. The ashram remembers him kindly and so do all of us. May his soul Rest In Peace and comfort.”

So let us not be mad, or sad. There is no loss! Knowing JVD was a tremendous gain. The only loss in life would have been to miss out on knowing him and none of us missed that! We are celebrating a brilliant, well loved man. Cancer does not really kill us. Our egos do. Our ignorance does.

Life is precious. Its magic is in the little things, not in our big dreams. We all experienced JVD. He was a Viking, a gladiator. He is fucking JAX. He worshipped Jack Bauer. He lived his 24 and in it, your paths, our paths collided. That’s life! That’s the gift, the connection. My girls and I lived with him. We were a family. He was so loving to them, so protective. That counted to us; to him. There was shit too. Lots of it. But the very worst of times brought about the very best of him and our family. We all struggle. We all court lies. We all sell ourselves short. But Justin even did that great. He went big! Even at his worst, we all saw his beauty. It was always right there and the shame was he could not see it.

Justin & Eric

The last bit of dialogue we had, per usual, was deep and philosophical. Warning! To honor J, I did not edit this. There is vulgar language which will be translated after I read the original copy.

EP: How are you today, my brother?

J: I’m feeling pretty good, just not looking forward to Wednesday.

EP: That’s awesome. Fuck Wednesday! Go in and act like Ragnoth from the Vikings.

J: Ha ya, he is the man! I’ve probably read 20 books about him. The show is actually somewhat accurate. They considered him like a god. Some shit they recorded about him is crazy. Real life bad mother fucker.

EP: I’m a real life twat. There will be nothing recorded about me, but a few shit yelp reviews.

J : Unfortunately, yes you are! But at least you know your station.

EP: A man’s got to know himself.

J: The fact that you know you’re a twat almost makes you not a twat. Not quite, but almost.

EP: I think it makes me a bit more tolerable when people know that I know.

J: Agreed

Some of you might find the language rude, upsetting, and what a miss that would be. If you allow words to bother you, then you missed out on Justin. He was a wordsmith. His love of language was like him, special. Now for the translation/subtext of the conversation….

EP: Hi, my brother. I’m worried for you and cheering you on.

J: I’m feeling good now. But I’m scared about going in again.

EP: All you have is today. Tomorrow you will be a hero, because that’s who you are.

J: I’m not a hero. But I read about them and I’m scared.

EP: Me too! I’m scared and afraid of what people think of me.

J: Yes, you are. You are full of fear, but at least you are aware of it.

EP: At least I know myself.

J: The fact that you know it makes the fear almost disappear.

EP: It makes me be able to tolerate myself a bit more.

J: It does and I love you!

EP: I love you!

Justin would want me to tell you do not miss out on what is really being said in life. Often people cannot say what they really feel or mean. Justin was one of those people. But for those who
really knew him, he did not need to say a thing. We knew by a laugh, a smile, a question or comment, even a blow up. We knew in that space between words who he was and how he felt. But for today just in case there is a shadow of a doubt about how he felt, I will be his voice and say to the four most important people he had, what he told me about them and what he wanted to tell you.

Dad, “I have never respected another man like you. Your perseverance, family devotion and patience with me was second to none. I, more than anything, wanted to make you proud and I realized when I came home that I made you proud just by being me. Thank you for freeing me and making it that easy to please you. I remember while studying about “what a great man is”, I told Eric “dude, this is my dad”. Oh, and you know how I know you are gay….

Leah: I never meant for my little sister to take care of me. But I always meant to tell you that I am so proud of you. The choices you have made for yourself and our family are the kind I wished I could have made myself. I did all I could with what I had and I know you loved me no matter what. I really loved you the same way. I got so much joy watching you live your life. Keep living it the way you always have: with dignity, integrity and class. Avi will take the best of me and help to fill the void I leave behind. Don’t let Eric or Cliff corrupt him.

Mom: I so often gave you my worst because I knew I was safe with you. I know it wasn’t fair. But all of my yelling, all of the short temper was on me. Believe it or not, taking it out on you actually saved me many times from doing something more destructive to myself or others.

You are the glue. You are our leader. You were my champion. No one has fought for another like you have fought for me. You did not make a single mistake. It was me making them.
Do not feel responsible for my demons, my struggles. I wanted to tell you this so many times, but couldn’t. I loved you so deeply, it scared me. I felt so “seen” by you and I could not handle it.
I wanted to. But know this, any ounce of comfort I felt in the world always was traced back to you. I heard your voice in my head daily and felt your love. I took advantage of that love in the wrong ways many times. But finally in the last few years, I took it in the right way and as physically sick as I was, I had never felt better. Please take that same love you gave me and give it to yourself. Don’t let my leaving, leave you behind. Dad, Leah, Fane, grandma, Avi and you have a blast. Laugh! Eat! Eat some more and laugh some more. Travel. Help people! You are gifted and most importantly, give Eric all my shoes. Oh, and my best watch.

Grandma: my dear grandmother. You have created a family like no other. Your strength, genius, kindness, and selflessness have set an example for all of us to live by. You need and want so little, yet you give and love like a giant. I heard you, grandma. I listened. All the conversations you tried to have with me, they were not for nothing. I even told Eric the other day, “grandma might be the baddest human being on earth”. Thank you for giving all of us each other. My death, grandma, isn’t a tragedy, its life. Some live long lives. Others don’t. But we all pass. You have seen so much life, hang in there and see some more. There is no better person god keeps on this earth than you.

For the rest of us, one of Justin’s favorite quotes from the “Sons of Anarchy” is from Tara when reintroduced to the love of her life, Jax:

‘We don’t know who we are until we are connected to someone else. We’re just better human beings when with the person we’re supposed to be with. I wasn’t supposed to leave, I belong here”.

There is a proverb Justin and I believe in fully, “a stone fit for a wall won’t be left in the way”. Justin no longer belonged here. But we do. He left us with each other. Let us honor him in our relationships. Rejoice when thinking of him. Step out of our comfort zones. Be willing to work as hard as he did to transform himself and help lift each other up.

A final word from Justin to all of us, spoken by Jax Teller from the “Sons of Anarchy”.

“Here’s the lesson for you all today and for always: hold on to the simple moments. Appreciate them a little more. There’s not a lot of them.

Finding things that make you happy should not be that hard.

I know you will face pain, suffering, hard choices. But you cannot let the weight of that choke the joy out of your life.

No matter what, you have to find the things that love you! Run to them.

There’s an old saying: “that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. I don’t believe that. I believe the things that try to kill you make you angry and sad. Strength comes from the good things – your family, friends, the satisfaction of hard work.

Those are the things that will keep you whole. Those are the things that you hold onto when you are broken.”

Justin left the world with a walk-off home run, a fucking hundred foot putt and sunk it to win it all. There is nothing sad or tragic about it.

He left a world champion. He made peace with himself. Committed to being who he was even if it was ugly at times.

He vowed to be genuine and became that. He learned how to be loved and received it.

He learned how to be patient and felt at ease with it. How is this tragic? Terrible? Sad? It’s not.

I had a brother whom I cherished. He was many things to many people. We celebrate having someone like this in our lives. Will we miss him?? Yes! Is it painful thinking about not seeing him again?? Yes!!

So if you love him and mention loss, tragedy, or fuck cancer again, I would not be surprised if my thug guru of a brother came down from the heavens and slapped some sense into you. Death comes in all kinds of ways. Who cares? What Justin would want for us is to live because life comes in all kinds of ways. Live!

I guarantee Justin left when he wanted and was suppose to and is chillin’ right now. So what’s tragic is the selfishness that’s involved with death. I’ve cried and cried and will continue to. But not because he is gone. But because while he was here, I was blessed to share in the brotherhood of our MC and because I know he is finally at peace.

Samcro forever, brother. Hold a spot for me at the table. You can even have the gavel. I’ll be there one of these days. Actually, I take that back. When I get there, I’m taking the gavel from you.

Much Love
EP

Eric & Rina
As yogis who have studied collectively for over thirty-seven years, we are filled with information, from ancient to present teachings, about the art of conducting relationships. Yet as we sit here thinking about a Valentine’s message on relationships, we both choose the importance of being playful together!

The simplicity of having fun carries a lot of value in a relationship. When we are playful, we laugh. When we laugh, we are experiencing a moment of freedom. We are present. Laughter lowers levels of stress by altering cortisol levels, creating happiness and a special connection with your partner. Conversely, stress is kryptonite for any relationship. It makes us uninspired to be romantic and keeps us alienated from one another, leading to a disinterest in sex, which then causes all sorts of other problems. But let’s keep this article playful 😉

Children tend to laugh three times more than adults. Being playful brings out that wonderful child-like quality within us which makes us feel light-hearted. Laughing with someone creates a bond, and bonding is continually needed in order for a relationship to flourish and to feel trust with your partner.

Since many people complain about their partner not being present or engaged in the relationship, playfulness can reinforce that your partner is with you and you are with him/her. Take a moment to reflect if you are the one who might need to add some playfulness to your relationship. If so, here are some fun suggestions we do together to ensure our relationship stays alive, healthy and present.

1. Give each other silly, sweet nicknames so that when you say their name or hear your name, it automatically makes you softer and sillier.

2. Watch a movie or TV show that makes you both laugh hysterically. Rewind a funny moment and watch it again. Crack up at each other cracking up!

3. Do things together that you would do as kids … bike ride, skateboard, kick a ball around in the park, go to Disney World, play dress up (in whatever way you want to interpret that.)

4. Play games when you’re doing mundane, routine things, like driving, or eating dinner at home. For example, play eye spy, license plate games, or sing songs together.

5. Remember your teenage years, when you might have been a bit more adventurous and willing to do rebellious things that now as an adult you might never do? DO THEM ANYWAY!!! Pinch your partner’s butt cheek in public, dance, or step away from a party to go make out!

6. When you see your partner stressed out, make them laugh in any way you can. Make silly faces, speak in an accent, tickle them and talk gibberish. Lighten the mood with your presence.

These are just a few ways that help us stay young and exciting during the ups and downs of a relationship. Be the couple that plays, stays engaged, interactive, in the moment and creative.

Every day will be your recess and the world will be your playground—all while hanging out with your BFF!

Written by Rina Jakubowicz and Eric Paskel
Today’s Yoga

Rina Jakubowicz and Eric Paskel are both students of the foremost Vedanta teacher in the world, Swami Parthasarathy. Rina and Eric are published writers and international touring teachers. They have owned and operated multiple studios and have led retreats and trainings worlwide. Rina and Eric are currently based out of Los Angeles where they somehow find sanity amongst the “cray”. For more information, check out rinayoga.com and ericpaskel.com or electricsoul.yoga.

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Eric Paskel teaches yoga to inmates at San Quentin, creating a “prison break” without ever leaving the prison.

It was not a hard sell when my teacher, Swami Parthasarathy, told me during one of our first meetings, “The whole world is a prison, and your only job in life is to get the hell out.” I did not even have to ask what he meant or where he got that information, because I knew I have always been in some kind of cell or another. According to Vedantic philosophy, freedom is defined by one’s happiness not being connected to any external agencies, i.e., people, places, and things (the world). Bondage (prison) is defined by one’s happiness being dependent on people, places, and things.

Consider Your Own Prison
I have never once, not even for a split second, felt happiness that was not connected to something in some way. Check it out: ask yourself if you are happy. If you said yes, there is most likely a reason linked to it. Hence, your happiness is because of something, someone, somehow. Believe it or not, that is not happiness. Why, you ask? Because whatever is making you happy has a shelf life! It may go away, or the pleasure you get from it will fade. But one way or another, everything in this world has a shelf life, even you! Ask your friends and family the same question, and if they respond, “I’m great,” ask them why they are happy. They will have a reason which will not be, “I Am.”

I do not care how big your prison is or what amenities you have. I do not care if you have a television and a nice kitchen in your cell. I care about getting out of jail! Sure, it may be easier gaining the grace I am looking for in the suburbs of Los Angeles, where I live, than it is in San Quentin State Prison. But every day, Beverly Hills folks imprison themselves and in San Quentin, inmates are finding freedom.

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Finding Freedom in San Quentin
I visited San Quentin in March after having lunch in Marin County, California, with my yoga agent and friend Elana Maggal and photographer Robert Sturman, who made this visit/yoga class happen. The irony of pulling into San Quentin five minutes after dining in one of the most expensive suburbs in the country was astounding. Yet knowing what I know about freedom, I smiled and said to myself, “You are just leaving one prison for another.” I prepared nothing and had zero information about what was expected of me, not even how long the class was going to be. I quickly discussed with James Fox, the head of the Prison Yoga Project, what I could expect from the inmates. Before I could take it in, we were standing in the yard of the infamous prison, without an armed guard. Our only armor was two yoga mats!

The students entered class on time, participated in setting up the room (there were tables and chairs everywhere), introduced themselves, and then sat peacefully on their mats. The mats had to be set up in a semicircle, because the students are on high alert when someone is behind them. I was not allowed to walk around the class or adjust anyone. “Doing that could trigger a PTSD or fight-or-flight response, ending in harm,” I was told. I was, as were the students, completely at ease. The students were fully engaged throughout the entire class. The level of commitment on their mat was second to none. They listened to every word I said, and I could see them processing the philosophy in every breath. Yoga was being practiced! It was not in the poses. They understood all too well that yoga is not about posing. It’s about getting out of jail! We created a prison break without ever leaving the prison. I could feel their deep hunger for personal freedom, and that was their gift to me. Teaching yoga to anyone, anywhere, is a joy for me, but it’s not always easy. Teaching at San Quentin was effortless.

Finding Freedom Everywhere Else
In suburbia, there is a different kind of prison. It’s one where there are no bars, yet many are stuck in a box. The difference is awareness. The student in jail knows he is there. If he wants out, there is an attitude and energy that drives him. As for the rest of us, we do not see ourselves in prison, so there is no sense of urgency. There is a lackadaisical approach to life, to our yoga practice. Even those reading this are reading it for the most part for their entertainment, not their enlightenment. Therefore, teaching yoga to those who are unaware that they are not free is like prying gum off the bottom of a shoe. It’s a tough job and being a yoga teacher does not in any way place you above the people you are teaching. I see it the way the yoga scriptures lay it out: We are all in the same boat, until we are completely out of the boat.

I know one person who is free. But because I am not, I cannot really be sure of it. I just know he is different, and everyone else I have ever come across is the same. A conditioned person cannot know what being unconditioned is like until they are unconditioned. It’s like sobriety. An alcoholic cannot possibly understand sobriety, until he is sober. I am not sober, so to speak, and that brings me back to the beginning of this story … our only job in life is to break out of jail, to know our infinite self, to reach our ultimate state of pure peace, bliss, and wholeness.

I want to be free and by God, it’s difficult. I feel the bars even though I cannot see them. They come up when I lose what I love, or get something I do not want. The walls cave in when I feel threatened that something of “mine” will be taken away. I throw myself into solitary when I covet the careers of others or cast stones at those I do not approve of.

There is much to do in order for me to gain my freedom. The good news is I have the key: it’s me!

Be sure to catch the Live Be Yoga Tour when it stops by Eric Paskel’s Electric Soul Yoga studio in L.A. on July 9th and visits San Quentin later this summer.

From:  www.yogajournal.com

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My first music memory wasn’t of a cartoon or Disney movie.  It wasn’t of nursery rhythms or holiday tunes. My first music memory… rocks. My father set me down in front of the stereo with enormous speakers, put the needle on the record, cranked the volume to 10, and what I heard next has been with me ever since. The sound of a Harley Davidson motorcycle shifting through all five gears on its way to take off was shattering my ear drums.  As that bike drove off in the distance, the drums and bass came kicking in as the intro to Steppenwolf’s, “Borne to be Wild”, seeped into my soul (I was 3 or 4).

Years later at 30, I was doing an experiment with yoga, 90 classes in 90 days. I was on a quest to find out why I hated it! One of the most important findings was that yoga is extremely rhythmic and soulful, yet it wasn’t being presented that way. During class, I would hear songs in my head that would fit beautifully to the flows we were working on. I could picture and feel the room ignite if a certain song was on to whatever it was we were doing. I spoke to my teachers about playing music in class, but they were not having it. I saw a need; yoga that rocks. I never thought I would be the guy to bring it to life.  But one day I was asked by my sister’s friend to teach a class to help her get over her fear of going to a studio.

I hadn’t taught a class before, and I had only been practicing yoga for nine months or so.  I made a “mixtape”, brought a yoga mat and a jam box, and history was made! Within months of teaching Sabrina, “Yoga Rocks” was created. It has opened the door to folks across the world whom otherwise would have never tried yoga. It has inspired thousands of teachers to teach this style of yoga along with an unimaginable amount of students who went from dragging themselves to class, to excitedly going and shaking their ass. Yoga Rocks has made its way to stadiums and festivals.  It’s gone as far as having DJ’s and live music wrapped around a yoga class.

When looking at my career and all the incredible life changing experiences I’ve been a part of, none of them would have happened had I not said the wise words of Rage Against the Machine: “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.”   

It wasn’t easy being insulted by students and frowned upon by peers.  But it would have been much harder being a coward and not listening to that voice inside me that said “this is what you must do”. I’m very proud to say that I have inspired so many teachers to teach with real, meaningful, kick ass music. Yet, I’m humbled by all the lives that have been touched by yoga because the music made it more accessible. I’ve been called the “Godfather of Yoga Rocks”. But I’m no Godfather.  I’m more like the OG (Original Gangster)! 

E to the mutha f^^king P.

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I was born on February 22, 1968. I was reborn on January 24, 1986, and yet again on
April 1, 2004, and September 26, 2013. Yet, I am sure I will be reborn again in this lifetime. A rebirth comes from a complete paradigm shift. It is truly when the world you live in, the operating principles that guide you, change entirely. This can be initiated by external circumstances. But in order to be reborn, one must renew their inner constitution.

The first 18 years of my life I suffered. I never knew a comfort in my own skin. I never experienced an ounce of content. I was swept up in what others thought or felt about me. I wanted to alter my state daily. I knew everything and I wanted to die. My first rebirth came as I walked into Drug Rehab, January 24, 1986. Thirty days later, with a lifetime of work ahead of me, I was reborn. I wanted to live. I knew nothing. I was concerned about what I thought about, not what others thought. I was content with a conversation, a smile, a meal, and a good night’s sleep. I felt, for the first time, real and genuine. I wanted to be in the state I was in.

Ever so humble

Rebirth is possible. In fact it’s probable, if and only, when you want to exercise your true greatness. I am not talking about talent. Talent, in many cases, is not only an obstacle to find your greatness, but it kills. I am talking about your godliness. That is simply the magic in you. The incredible power that we, as humans, possess. These days, days are spent chasing mundane dreams by humanity. I see people, including myself, achieving goals and fulfilling dreams, only to find they still are not full!

Become born again! Make a total shift. Know that you don’t know! Surrender. No more chasing and racing through life. Cease and release the need to control, to look “good”, to pretend, or to hide. Be real! Do the work you know you need to do and learn what you don’t know! All of this may sound overwhelming, but it all starts with one powerful choice. Choose to really live and choose to get help in doing so. You want to see a different world? You will the moment there is a different you.

We are travelers, seekers, fighters and lovers. But all in all, we are humans. Come be human with us.

Peace,

EP

What should I get my parents for their 50th wedding anniversary, I asked my lady? “Duh, Goobi (term of endearment), get your ass there and spend some time with them”, she answered. Rina was right. The best gift a child can give their parents is spending time with them.

My trip is a surprise. On the plane ride to Florida my excitement builds, as I write down some thoughts that are running through my mind on what it takes to stay with someone 50 years.

I have spent the better part of 30 years studying relationships, and of course, have had a variety of them myself. I would love to tell you that my marriage is together, but it’s not.  What has come together is the understanding of what we all need to know about holding a “until death do us part” vow.

The list I have compiled was forged from the space of upholding the pledge of “until death do us part”. Everything else in the marital contract, in some form, and at sometime, will most likely not only be broken, but shattered. Are you ready? If so, check out some of the reasons these incredible marriages have lasted!

1. Forgiveness is the only action a couple needs to perfect. Since neither person in the relationship is perfect, imperfections will show up in many forms. None of which will be fun, necessarily, for either person, and for some, those imperfections may seemly be intolerable. Forgiveness is the cornerstone to any successful relationship, especially a marriage, in making it last a lifetime. Everything has to be forgivable to make things liveable!  Mark Twain says “Forgiveness is the fragrance a violet sheds on the heel that crushes it”. Think about that! Live it! Then you will find it easy and freeing to forgive.

2. Two Lanes: There are only two lanes on the marital highway. One is staying married.  The other one is leaving! You have to choose the staying married lane over and over again. That has to be more important than anything else that happens in the marriage. There is a glory and a story that one can only have by staying in it. There are so many chapters to the story and you have to be steadfast on finishing your book. There will be many tragedies and triumphs throughout your story. There will be times of despondency, as well as, emotional, physical and financial bankruptcy. There will be births, deaths, laughs, and celebrations. All the while, you need to keep choosing to stay in that lane. Those that leave may find incredible loves, but they will never know if their choice was a good one, because they left before the story was over. No one who leaves will ever find out what it would have been like to stay. It’s a huge commitment! Staying is huge! It may end with one or both parties not being entirely happy. However, if either one truly understands the value of holding that space for decades, then, that in itself is an experience that cannot be matched by any other in this world.

3. Courage is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear! Need I say more? Of course there may be fear, but fear never overtakes either one of you. Fear never dictates decisions. In short, it never wins the war.  Some battles yes, but not the war.

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4. Loyalty and Stubbornness: These qualities came straight from the horse’s mouth. When I  asked my father how did you two manage to stay together for 50 years? My father responded, “I am too loyal to leave and Marlene is too stubborn”. After reflecting on that statement and what my father truly meant, it made perfect sense. I call it L.A.F., which stands for loyalty, allegiance, faithfulness. All of these words can be found in the other words’ definitions. They are one in same. One could substitute them for leniency, affection and friendship. Point being is that you have to have many laughs and hold the principles of L.A.F.

5. Never say Never: I have seen marriages explode because one or both parties unintelligently have created a deep seeded belief of what should never be acceptable. I am not suggesting I know your moral compass. I am stating that “I would never stay with someone who cheated on me” along with other such statements, are guarantees that a marriage will not last. In a long term relationship, you have to take things as they come. You have to be willing to see through many different lenses, and have an in depth understanding of the human condition. By saying, “I do” forever, you cannot say “but I won’t put up with this shit…”

I tip my hat to all who have somehow, someway, held their marriages together. Few realize that the relationship they dream of, is just that; a dream. Reality is a long lasting marriage with many nightmares. There is no fantasy. The fantasy is thinking it will be anything less than the most difficult thing you will do in life. However, the more difficult it is, the more gratifying the work will be. The reward from staying in a marriage is not just what the couple feels, but the gift of wholeness that they give to their families, their friends and their community. In a fragmented world with so much divisiveness, married couples give us unity. The more unions that stay intact, the more unions that will be created.

Thanks to all who make it their life’s commitment to grow a successful marriage.

Peace,

EP

Some years ago when I was just a teen, my friends and I were at my parents’ house while they were out of town. Although the party was definitely rich with people and playthings, we decided that we wanted to take the show on the road. There were two vehicles in the garage ready to take us anywhere we wanted to go, except for one thing… my parents took the keys with them so I could not use their cars. I remember staring at the cars thinking, “what good are they without the keys, they can’t move”.

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Years later I came across a similar and a much more global issue, New Year’s Resolutions.  They cannot get you very far without knowing what are the keys to success.  A few weeks into the New Year, many find they are slipping back into old patterns, even after swearing to themselves, family and friends, that things are going to change.

Here are 3 steps to help you uphold your New Year’s Resolutions:

1. I Can’t, We Can:  We all must realize that a resolution comes from an understanding that something must change.  Although it may have been just discovered, there is a history with whatever it is you are wanting to resolve.  If you were able to make that change, you would not be reading this and you certainly would not have made it a resolution. Nothing in this world is done alone.  I would not be writing this blog without my iPad. Someone built the chair I am sitting in and the desk I am typing at. Whatever you are looking to start or stop, learn or unlearn, will not be accomplished without help.  Ask for help!  Be willing to become an expert on whatever it is you are trying to do or not to do. You will need a village of friends, family, experts, support groups, as well as intensive study.  You may even need to plant yourself in a conducive environment for your change, for an extended period of time.  Point being, you must be ready to do whatever it takes.  All change takes a lot of help and education. Remember, only you can do it, but you cannot do it alone!

2. The world does not need to change, you do.  One of the biggest mistakes I see people make in pursuit of their own change is blaming people, places and things for change being difficult.  Yes, the environment can make things easier or harder, but in the end as a human, you are designed to rise above environmental influences.  You must not waste a moment trying to change others, or wishing things to be different.  You must use that energy on yourself!  If you put the amount of time looking outside yourself, into looking at yourself, all will be well. No one completes us and no one defeats us, but us!  Look around the world.  Do your research and you will find an unrelenting law: “You are the architect of your own fortune and misfortune.” – (A. Parthasarathy).  It is you that has choice.  It is you who has taken yourself out of and into everything you have experienced. Know deeply that no matter what is happening around you, you are responsible for what is going on within you!  You are fully responsible for your New Year’s Resolutions.  You chose them and now it’s up to you to deliver.  Refer back to Step One now and get help.

3. Work: Now it’s time to do the work. You will make mistakes.  You will relapse.  You will struggle.  New Year’s Resolutions can be set-ups for failure simply because change takes time and an unswerving commitment.  They do not go far on impulse.  Working on changing is change itself.  Understand what you are really trying to do and be realistic with the results.  Many of us have a nasty habit of unrealistic expectations, which come from a lack of understanding or education on what our resolutions entail.  I hear every year from countless people wanting to stop drinking or, of course, wanting to change their eating habits. These kinds of changes do not just happen and if they do, they will not last. You must educate yourself on the subject. Changing habits, arresting addictions are big time ventures that take incredible amounts of time and energy to see them through. They can involve job and relationship changes and much, much more.  Resolutions such as watching less TV involve a bigger “picture”;  with a deeper, underlying issue.  One of your resolutions may have to be to transform your relationship with self-work. Without a healthy relationship, working on yourself will quickly become strenuous, and stressful. Once in that state, the mind is looking for relief and guess where that relief comes from?? Yep, the very thing you were trying to give up, the mind will find a new habit that you will one day need to stop!  Learn to love the struggle, the challenge of change and you will set yourself free. These are the bare essentials for making good on your NYR. In most cases resolutions are truly about taking a personal inventory.  Once that inventory is taken, we are left with a deeper awareness on how we wish to improve ourselves.  There is no creature alive that can live and love like a human being.  You have won the “creature lotto”.  However, in order to open the treasure, you have dig deep within yourself to unlock it. The keys to unlocking your treasure are essential.

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I have designed a 10 day program, Eric Paskel Life and Teacher Training to do just that. Learn more about this dynamic program.  Once you jump on the road of transformation, the need for resolutions is no longer there, because every day you are already doing the work.  Here’s to your greatness!

Cheers,

EP

 

SolitudeWho does not want an “easy path” to enlightenment; a “minute meditation”; a “quickie” to take the stress away? We are all down for that! Yet, is it really possible? Can I hear a “hell yeah”?

Here is all you have to do: Click your heels together three times and say “I wish I was home. I wish I was home”. It’s what the great Oz told Dorothy to do in the story, The Wizard of Oz, and it worked!

Meditation, as it was described by those that perfected themselves as human beings, cannot be accomplished in one minute. In fact, it’s not the first step in our quest for peace. It is the last step. However, if you are looking for a smile rather than a frown, a laugh rather than a cry, or a thank you, rather than a f*** you, here is what you can do…

– Have a go-to word or phrase that sums up who you want to be, how you want to feel, and ultimately the attitude and energy that you wish to exude every day. This “mantra” needs to be repeated both out loud and silently throughout the day. The most important times to do this are as soon as you wake up in the morning, and right before you go to bed at night. Do not be stingy with this. Repeat your “mantra”, even when you are not feeling it, throughout the day.

– The Manic Meditation: We have been exposed to only a small piece of what meditation looks like. It is a mere shadow of what is described in the ancient yoga scriptures. Therefore, allow me to use the name as the title for its “catchiness”, not what its operating definition or intent is supposed to be.

We think meditation should look and feel a certain way, such as sitting in a cross-legged position silently with our eyes closed. This type of meditation is impossible for many and is not helpful for those who are a bit more expressive.

The Manic Mediation is just as it sounds. Take a few minutes to go nuts! Yes, you have to be nuts! Seriously, scream, yell, swear, dance, hit the floor, jump up and down. Having a controlled breakdown helps to prevent having an actual one.

– Breathe! Even taking a Xanax is no match for the soothing, grooving qualities our own breath has to offer. It does take a little more effort than swallowing a pill, but not much more.

Take a seat or stand. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Close your eyes. Breathe in through the nose and out through the nose. Focus on filling the belly (like you ate too much) on the inhale and emptying the belly on the exhale. Try to not push anything away or to hold anything in. Do not worry about what you are thinking, just breathe! After ten or so breaths, which is about a minute at the most, you will already feel different. This is 20 minutes less than the time it takes for a Xanax to kick in.

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Meditation is ultimately not something you just do. There are prerequisites. Meditation does not calm the mind. One needs a calm mind to meditate! However, it is a “state” of mind. It is the effect of making good choices. Choices that support who you are and who you wish to be. Choices that are consistent with your own morals and ethics. Choices that support health and well being for all of humanity.

The above exercises are quick, easy, and yet so powerful. The Buddha said “you will struggle on the path of enlightenment not because it’s too difficult, but because it’s so simple you won’t believe it can work”.

If you want to know the true benefit of meditation you must off load desires, withdraw from your senses, and learn to concentrate by taking the three fold path of Karma, Bhakti and Gnana yoga. This is a mammoth undertaking and there are no short cuts. However, there are many different starting points. Begin by starting to practice my simple program and you will be well on your way.

Peace,

EP