Chicago & the winds of change

18 May



This is my third week in my new city. The sky is blue and nature has started full bloom but don’t be fooled, it’s still cold here. Since landing in Chicago, I’ve been welcomed with open arms by the yoga community, everyone seems ready to embrace the coming warmer months. It is nice starting over in a new city, a new list of things to do and try, a new adventure around every corner. I will even admit it, I’m even excited about the “touristy” things here; Millennium Park, the Navy Pier, recreating scenes from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the Chicago Cubs!



Upcoming Workshops with Adam & Kumiko

4 Feb
Asheville Yoga Center ~ Asheville,N.C.
Valentine's Day Partner Yoga
with Adam Shirley and Kumiko Buckman
Sunday, February 13, 2016 5:30 - 7:30pm
$40 per couple
All Levels Welcome
sign up at   

Yoga With An Edge ~ Hickory, N.C.
Jivamukti Yoga Workshop
with Kumiko Yamada & Adam Polhemus Shirley
Saturday, March 12, 2016 8:00 - 11AM 
Phone: 828.310.0130

The Yoga Circle ~ Birmingham, Al.
Subtle Power & Asana - Finding The Strength
with Adam Polhemus Shirley
Saturday, March 19, 2016 2:00 - 4:30pm
sign up at 

Yoga With An Edge ~ Hickory, N.C.
ASHTANGA WORKSHOP (First, Second Series & Beyond)
Saturday, April 10, 2016, 1:30-4:30Pm
Phone: 828.310.0130

Downtown Yoga Center ~ Johnson City, TN. 
Jivamukti Yoga Workshop with Kumiko Yamada & Adam Polhemus Shirley
Saturday, April 23, 2016, 12:30 - 3pm
423-232-YOGA (9642)

Hot, hip and holy!

6 Jul

jivamukti logo

Created in 1984 by Sharon Gannon and David life, Jivamukti yoga strives to help us fulfill our true potential, liberation in this life! It is a practice that allows us to access the underlying, subtle and esoteric teachings of yoga. Through the practice of the 5 tenents we strive for a life, not just a yoga asana class, that allows us to express compassion and create a mutually beneficial coexistence with all that surrounds us.

1. Ahimsa: Nonviolence and compassion towards all beings, which includes eating a vegan diet—by being kind to others you create an atmosphere of peace within and around yourself which extends into the greater world.

2. Bhakti: Devotion—offering everything you do to something greater than your ego/small self— acknowledgment that Self or God realization is the goal of all yoga practices.

3. Dhyana: Meditation—connecting to that unchanging reality of eternal joy within.

4. Nada: Through sacred music and sonic techniques, learn how to enhance the development of a sound body and mind through deep listening.

5. Shastra: The study of Sanskrit scriptures and how they apply to the here and now.

From Jivamukti’s roots in ashtanga, we love asana, it allows us into our bodies and opens us up to all beings (every body). The practice of asana not only allows us to create strong flexible bodies but also strengthens our mind and adds flexibility to our preconceived notions that hold us in stagnation. What a gift it is, in this life, to have a human birth and to be able to practice the divine act of asana.

It is more than a yoga asana class, it is a new way of thinking and lifestyle, moving from a society of dominance to one of mutual benevolence and balance. As David Life said when asked, “Who would you say is the perfect candidate to start practicing Jivamukti yoga?” David’s answer,
The ones with imagination, a sense of adventure, and the courage to change. All change starts within. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.””

To learn more: Join Adam Shirley and Kumiko Yamada for a Jivamukti Workshop on July 18, 2015, 10:00 – 12:30pm. All Levels Welcome. $35. Register and Pay
Jivamukti workshop sign up

Shine Control

8 Apr

‏”Shine control, we need shine control!” The director, who resembled a Miami version of Stanley Kubrick, repeated this phrase louder and louder as the makeup lady hurried towards me, her bag of tricks and mirrors in hand. As I was being powdered and prepped for this yoga video shoot, my thoughts drifted back to a conversation I once had with a senior yoga teacher. I remember her clearly stating that the performance of asana for spectacle or admiration was to be avoided and was actually the last thing you want to do with this sacred geometry.

‏Fully decked out in the finest mens yoga clothing from a well known yoga clothing retailer, bright pastels to match the turquoise yoga mat I was to perform on, I had a brief panic attack. The bright lights hit me from all angles as I contemplated what exactly was I doing? Had I boiled down something that saved my life to an easily digestible highlight reel of asanas, all performed with a purpose to sell merchandise? And then I made a decision.

‏The director said action and I jumped. Literally, leaped into handstand and whipped my body into a variety of shapes, trying not to linger on my doubts about what I was doing and the conundrum of spiritual belief vs paying bills in the real world. Five hours and a few outfits later I was done. I collected my check and left the old church where the shoot had taken place. The drive home was a long one, in my passenger seat next to me sat my feelings of being a sell out. As I drove, my feelings mocked me, “Sell out! you didn’t keep it real!”.

Scarlet Letter

Scarlet Letter

‏As a teenager in the nineties, selling out was to be avoided at all costs. Being real was the nineties way of saying you had integrity and could not be bought with shiny things and bags of cash. As teens we were supposed to seek out this authenticity and real ness, embody it and change the world! Then Kurt died, Tupac and Biggie were shot and keeping it real went wrong.

‏Feeling like a sell out, I scoured my mind for justification and excuses to why I made the right choice. Hadn’t I seen videos of asana demonstration by the greats, even going back to Krishnamacharya? But they weren’t selling a product. And then I realized, actually, they were selling a product. The product was yoga and they were using any means available to them to distribute the message. So, in my mind, I rationalized some one seeing the video footage and not buying said products but deciding they wanted to practice yoga, thus beginning there journey into the world of yoga. I can live with that.

‏Away we bow or (The unexpected virtue of dhanurasana)

26 Mar

‏As a child I was full of energy, always working on something or playing outside in the sun. My mother tried her best to keep up with me and keep me busy in a safe manner. On rainy days, I used to sit by the sliding glass door and watch the rain, waiting for it clear up so that I could resume my outdoor adventures. I vividly remember sitting there and for the first time I witnessed rain while the sun was shining, completely amazing to my young mind. On days like those, my mother had to find an indoor activity for me before the whole house become a fort or art project. So one rainy day, my mother gave me my first vinyl record, a very strange record…

‏Growing up in a home of music lovers, we had various record players throughout the house, I even had one in my room. I was very aware of how to play a record and the delicate art of setting the needle down in the right spot. In my room, I put the LP on the old hand me down record and started to listen for the music that I expected to hear. No music came out, instead it was a mans voice directing me to do weird movements with my body. There was background music but both sides had a man speaking softly and directing me to take my body into weird shapes. All these shapes had nicknames; butterfly, cat & cows, inch worm, bear, snake rocking horse, rainbow etc…

‏Out of curiosity I decided to play along with the record, I went through each shape and then turned the record over and did it again. The first few times I remember feeling confused but it did seem like a game so I continued on. I became completely obsessed with this record, I would even stay inside on the sunny days to give it a go. When I was dropped off at the baby sitters, the record would come with me. It kept me very busy and out of trouble. One of my favorite shapes to take was rocking horse, the one where I would reach back and grab my ankles and then kick into my hands, lifting me up as i stayed on my abdomen… Also known to me now as dhanurasana.

‏It wasn’t until much later that I realized the record was directing me through a yoga sequence for children. Now as an adult with many years of practice, I see where seeds were planted, taking root, only to produce blossoms much later in my life. I never did find out what happened to the record, I must have been about ten when I moved on to other things, sports and toys. I like to think it was passed on in a yard sale to some other young, fortunate and hyper active boy.

Stop Drop and Ujjayi

14 Mar

‏Stop drop and yoga!

‏The weather was very nice, sun out and not a cloud in sight, Asheville was shining like a mountain oasis. Because few days happen like this before spring, I decided to walk to the local market for the makings of a salad. The half mile walk was filled with passing neighbors and friends as they ventured towards downtown, all determined to take full advantage of the beautiful day. As I walked towards the steep, uphill and well worn path to the gravel parking lot of the market, I began to hear the voices of youngish people. Once I crested the hill, it became clear that spontaneous asana was happening. The small group of eclectic dressed young men and women were taking different arm balances and inversions, everyone was having fun doing asana in a parking lot.

‏I have come across this scenario more and more often, people doing random acts of asana or taking yoga pictures for Facebook or Instagram in various spots throughout the city. These random acts of stop drop and yoga are a sign of how popular yoga has become, you see it everywhere these days; magazines, television, parking lots and even churches. It is all very impressive but I’m still waiting to encounter a very specific, possibly random act of yoga.

‏I dream about the day I hear a person using ujjayi breathing as we pass in the produce section at the local grocer. Maybe one day I will pass a jogger and hear the unmistakeable sound of ujjayi as they (probably) pass me. It is not hard to do and brings a present, albeit slightly noisy, centering to whatever activity you are engaged in. While driving, I have found ujjayi breathing to be calming and help pass the time while stuck in traffic.

‏Not all activities are suited for this particular form of breathing, particularly the library and movie theatre. This encounter almost happened while watching a movie with my partner at the local cinema. I debated with her whole heartedly that they were using ujjayi but my partner assured me the person behind me had breathing problems and we needed to change seats.

I must not fear

14 Jul

‏What is fear?
Fear is an emotion induced by a threat perceived by living entities, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately a change in behavior, such as running away, hiding or freezing from traumatic events. Fear may occur in response to a specific stimulus happening in the present, or to a future situation, which is perceived as risk to health or life, status, power, security, or in the case of humans wealth or anything held valuable. The fear response arises from the perception of danger leading to confrontation with or escape from/avoiding the threat (also known as the fight-or-flight response), which in extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) can be a freeze response or paralysis.
In humans and animals, fear is modulated by the process of cognition and learning.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

‏One of my teachers, Tim Miller, would often say, that engagement of the bandhas eliminates fear. I found this concept to be incredibly powerful in my pursuit of liberation through asana but could this idea hold up to the rigors of off the mat challenges. Through the use of bandhas, I believe, true liberation from your surroundings becomes accessible. With the internal fortitude required to keep the energetic locks in place, the overwhelming sensations that surround us can become a little more quiet, with more space between our response to the external stimulation. In effect, slowing down the causality of our daily life and interactions.

You're trying right now, aren't you?

You’re trying right now, aren’t you?

As a young man, I was an avid fan of Frank Herbert’s Dune and the accompanying books. Dune introduced me to many philosophical ideas, planting cerebral seeds that would come to fruition much later as an adult. In the book Dune, a young man named Paul Atreides, is put through a horrific life journey. While maneuvering this dangerous path in life, he keeps a mantra close to his heart, a litany against fear.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
‏Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear
~Frank Herbert~ Dune

‏While learning about yoga, the bandhas and their relation the fear I could not help but to see a correlation between the words in Dune and what I was learning from my yoga teachers. Shri K. Pattabhi Jois also known as Guruji, would often say “Mulha bandha is the source to control the mind.” Never was the correlation between fear and mulha bandha clearer, than when I read that. I remembered that “fear is the mind killer” suddenly the connection and faith I had in my locks became much greater, in essence, creating greater control of the mind.

‏The connection between the locks, fear and mind control does not make logical sense to me. I have often searched for some scientific explanation and validation to explain the experience of such an esoteric concept. The bandhas, being experiential in nature, are hard to logically explain to someone, yet I experience them daily and can attest to their life changing ability. The quote below, also from Dune, sums up best my relation to yoga, locks and mind control.

Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.
~Frank Herbert~ Dune