My Story

 

Yoga and Meditation are souvenirs of a life well-traveled.  The Yoga HotDish recipe is an eclectic blend of classical yoga and modern best practices, without cutting corners: no 1-hour classes, dumbing it down, new-aging it up, or converting you to Hinduism.  So what’s in the mix?

Heapin’ Helpings of  Kripalu ~ Teacher training in residence at Kripalu Yoga Center for Health, Stockbridge, MA. 2001.  This was back when the Yoga Alliance was about protecting the integrity of the teacher training process and therefore required immersion in a residential program for certification–not like today when any studio or online outfit can set up shop. There were no cell phones allowed, and no coffee!   Collegial in atmosphere, a large staff of full-time teachers was ready to guide you, tell you the truth and kick you in the backside. I picked Kripalu as the best blend of East and West: a school of lineage with roots back to India, under the capable leadership of Stephen Cope, a former therapist and author of Yoga and the Quest for the True Self.  Kripalu had dispensed with unhealthy guru worship (along with the guru) and phased out devotional Hinduism to become secular.  Known as the  “Yoga of Transformation,”  it’s a place to Get Real with 6″ of closet space, bunk beds and all things yoga from 6 am to 10 pm.
One Part Sivananda ~ First yoga teacher in Singapore was a Zen Buddhist trained in India. She was down-to-business and always wore the same uniform: white polo shirt and blue track pants. She told me it would take 10 years for my collegiate tennis-tortured hamstrings to stretch out back in 1999, and she was right!   “If you can’t have a flexible body, then have a flexible mind.”  She also taught me the importance of headstand and how to approach it safely, in spite of a whiplash injury.
One Part Santa Barbara ~ Santa Barbara has long been an incubator to amazing, eclectic Indie yoga. Frequent trips to Santa Barbara afford me the opportunity to study with local legends like Eddie Ellner in his one-of-a-kind sacred space known as Yoga Soup.  There, by sheer happenstance, I’ve stumbled into trainings with major thought leaders of our time.
Modern Anatomy Know-How ~  Trainings with Paul Grilley, Leslie Kaminoff, as well as Kripalu’s doctors-on-staff have led me to realize there’s no one path to the perfect pose.  While knowing “universal alignment principles,” is a start, it can only take you so far; and, if applied dogmatically, can lead to injury.  If you go into a class and the students all have the same body-type as the teacher (especially if it’s not yours) run away!  YogaHotDish classes are full of all shapes and sizes, scaling the poses in the best way for their body types–not for Instagram! (#notinstayoga). With class sizes topping out at around 12, YogaHotDish is totally custom.  Why buy “off-the-rack” when you can have couture?
Rich Zen Sauce ~  In 1989, I found myself at the Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto mesmerized by snowflakes. When I returned to Japan in the mid 90’s to manage a software company, I befriended an elderly woman who spoke no English. Once we exhausted the limits of my Japanese for the day, we often sat in silence, eyes closed,  be it in a garden or on the train.  Simple acts of eating food, drinking tea and strolling the nearby “samurai garden”  were done with total focus and awareness, in silence.  I realize now that all of these were meditation experiences, yielding a level of peace I only re-discovered when I found yoga in Singapore.
Combine all the above, slow bake it in the oven for decades…Serve to anyone curious enough to show up!
Gluten-free, but will stick to your ribs.  Gimmick-free without the new-age music and mirrors that are counterproductive and detract from true meditation.  No microwaved, “hot yoga” served here — the heat is supposed to come from within and build gradually over 75+  minutes,  as not to harm your joints and muscles.  No pressure to sport Lululemon or tie-dye for that matter (unless you want to); and please, no Speedos!
Maybe you have questions: will the practice be too difficult, am I too out-of-shape? No! I came to yoga as a sufferer of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  There was a time when I didn’t have the energy to go to the grocery store!  Will be it too easy, will I get a good workout? Yes! I was an athlete in a previous life and feel as though I’m in the best albeit different shape of my life. My body is more balanced and I feel in shape throughout, down to the smaller muscles, as opposed to overdeveloping the larger muscles for vanity or sport. Will it be too woo-woo? No! There’s no chanting (except for special workshops and only because it’s good for your brain), no new-age assumptions about energy, chakras or astrology!
What you will find is relaxation, peace and lots of QUIET!
My Meditation Guru: Kusumoto Sumiyo of Daimon, Tokyo.
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