Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

Books: The Art of Happiness, by H.H. the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler May 27, 2014

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for LivingThe Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living is based on conversations that Howard C. Cutler, MD, a psychiatrist, had with the Dalai Lama over several years. The author’s introductory note states that the purpose of the book was to collaborate “on a project that would present the Dalai Lama’s views on leading a happier life, augmented by [Cutler’s] own observations and commentary from the perspective of a Western psychiatrist” (ix).

Cutler chose to organize the book’s content thematically. The topics include the following:

  • Part I: The Purpose of Life (hint: it has to do with happiness)
  • Part II: Human Warmth and Compassion
  • Part III: Transforming Suffering
  • Part IV: Overcoming Obstacles
  • Part V: Closing Reflections on Living a Spiritual Life

Each part except for Part V is comprised of three or four chapters discussing related topics. Cutler will often introduce a topic by giving a brief overview of the Dalai Lama’s thoughts, then will delve into the psychology behind the issue before returning to H.H.’s viewpoint and suggestions for dealing with the issue. Overall I feel like Cutler succeeds in meshing the sometimes very different viewpoints of Tibetan Buddhism and Western psychiatry, and I enjoyed the stories that both of them had to offer, but there were times when Cutler just didn’t seem to get what the Dalai Lama was saying and vice versa. In those instances, I was more interested in hearing the Dalai Lama’s viewpoint and just wanted Cutler to stop harping on whatever it was already, but overall this was pretty rare; I tended to enjoy both viewpoints.

One thing that I found interesting was how the Dalai Lama talks about eliminating negative states of mind. Just as in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Dalai Lama agrees that one of the best ways to eliminate these states of mind is to think of positive ones instead. For example,

“When talking about eliminating negative states of mind, there is one point that should be born in mind. Within Buddhist practice, the cultivation of certain specific positive mental qualities such as patience, tolerance, kindness, and so on can act as specific antidotes to negative states of mind such as anger, hatred, and attachment. Applying antidotes such as love and compassion can significantly reduce the degree or influence of the mental and emotional afflictions” (239).

This passage comes in Part IV, Overcoming Obstacles, in Chapter 12, Bringing About Change. This view fits in so well, to me, with Patanjali’s words in Sutra II.33: “When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of.” I was really impressed and excited that Buddhist thought on this topic meshes so nicely with the yoga sutras.

The Dalai Lama’s wisdom is practical and straightforward; you can tell that he himself practices the same techniques he recommends. The book also includes instructions for several meditation practices (like this one), written in the Dalai Lama’s own words from transcripts of his talks. These are scattered throughout the book, as this isn’t intended as a meditation manual, but it’s nice that they’re included in places that make sense thematically.

Overall, I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the Dalai Lama, one of the holiest and most revered people alive today, and to understand his perspective, his kindness, and his compassion.

Advertisements
 

Mother’s Day Yoga Class May 19, 2014

Filed under: music,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:24 am
Tags: , , , ,

I taught a Mother’s Day class! Well, not on actual Mother’s Day, it was during my usual Tuesday class time – but it was a class designed for moms, with lots of fun partner poses for moms attending with their offspring (although offspring had to be at least 12 or older – that would have been an entirely different sort of class). It was a small class, but a lot of fun!

Here’s the sequence I taught:

And here’s the playlist I created for the class. I tried to include music with a lot of feminine energy, both specifically mother-related and just general girl power tunes; I pulled from both my yoga music collection and pop music. I was pretty happy with the overall playlist – my only sadness is that I made it long enough that I wouldn’t have to worry about running out of music, but instead there were great songs we didn’t get to!

Mother’s Day Class Mix: 18 songs, 1 hour 27 minutes

Track No. Song Title Duration Artist Album Notes
1 Ong Namo 10:03 Snatam Kaur Grace I’ve only just discovered Snatam Kaur. This is a nice light song for the minutes before class begins.
2 New Beginning 5:33 Tracy Chapman New Beginning I like the idea of Tracy Chapman kicking off a yoga class.
3 Sons and Daughters 5:18 The Decemberists For obvious reasons.
4 High on a Mountain Top 2:42 Loretta Lynn Van Lear Rose Loretta Lynn has a great spoken-word song on this album about her mother, poor and desperate, stealing a pair of red shoes for her when she was a little child. A spoken-word song wouldn’t work for a yoga class, but that’s what made me think to pull a Loretta Lynn song for this class.
5 Holiday 4:06 Madonna The Immaculate Collection Because Mother’s Day is a holiday!
6 Girls Just Want To Have Fun 3:56 Cyndi Lauper The Essential Cyndi Lauper For obvious reasons.
7 Ice Cream 2:36 Sarah McLachlan The Freedom Sessions What Mother’s Day would be complete without ice cream?
8 Comptine d’un autre été : L’ap 2:21 Yann Tiersen Amélie Soundtrack Because Amélie is one of the girliest movies I’ve ever seen, but without being trite or predictable.
9 32 Flavors 6:07 Ani DiFranco Not A Pretty Girl More ice cream.
10 Never Knew What Love Meant 5:22 Lotus Lotus A yoga album, but it felt appropriate.
11 Harbor 4:24 Vienna Teng Warm Strangers One of my all-time favorite songs. When I listened to it in the context of a mother-child love rather than a romantic love, I got all teary.
12 Dante’s Prayer 5:25 Loreena McKennitt Live in Paris and Toronto (disc 1) I thought Loreena would be a good pick to include, and this is a light and beautiful song (although I could do without the 30 seconds of people clapping at the end of the live track – but the studio version has monks chanting, which didn’t feel right for Mother’s Day).
13 River, Run 3:46 Suddenly, Tammy! (We Get There When We Do.) My favorite obscure band! Love this song.
14 Beloved 7:05 Anoushka Shankar Rise A great yoga song.
15 True Colors 3:48 Cyndi Lauper The Essential Cyndi Lauper I had to include this one. I often sang this to my YB when she was a tiny baby. In this class, this ended up being the savasana song, which I liked.
16 Green Island Lullaby 3:17 Vienna Teng Warm Strangers This is just a lovely lullaby, in Teng’s family’s native Taiwanese.
17 Yemaya Assessu 3:34 Deva Premal The Essence I love Deva Premal’s version of the Gayatri Mantra, but this is a lighter, less serious chant. Friendly-like.
18 Bliss 6:59 Yogini Putumayo Presents Yoga The final song on the excellent Putomayo yoga collection. I included it here just in case I was running out of music and needed a little more for savasana. Apparently I needn’t have worried!

 

 

Yoga Teaching Updates: Mother’s Day Class, Last Class at Wellness on Park May 4, 2014

Filed under: checking in,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 12:21 pm
Tags: ,

I have two yoga teaching updates today!

First, I’ll be teaching a special Mother’s Day yoga class at Wellness on Park on Tuesday May 13 at 7:30pm, full of fun partner poses and a music playlist powered with feminine energy! Moms, grandmas, and anybody who loves one are welcome (participants should be age 12 and up). Best of all, all moms pay only $5!

Secondly, I will be leaving Wellness on Park in order to spend more time with family and on my own yoga practice. My last class will be Tuesday May 20 at 7:30pm. I hope you’ll come out to make it a good one!

When I come back to teaching yoga sometime in the future, I’ll be sure to make an announcement here. Until then, I’m looking forward to seeing what the next yoga adventure will be.