Saturday, June 23, 2018

"Stop Touching My Ass"; or, My First Baptiste Class

Baron Baptiste Photo by Anja Schlein

(It seems that I wrote this draft in November '16 and forgot to post it)

I just took my first Baptiste yoga class today, and I don't know what to think of it. 

I have been practicing a style of yoga rooted in Tantra for the last six years, so I am used to classes stepping pretty far from the norms of classical yoga. However, I found myself frequently saying "wouldn't it be nice to hear something in Sanskrit? Or maybe to have someone explain what were doing, instead of just bouncing around to all the really, really, really loud music?"

As class started, there were two young, half dressed, yoga chicks (sorry, that's the best way to describe them) bouncing around like they were on ecstasy. They stopped periodically mid-posture to take selfies.  The music was so loud that I couldn't hear what passed for instructions despite the instructor being micced, and frequently "helpers" came around to give adjustments. At one point, while in pigeon, a "helper" placed one hand on my sacrum, another of my back, and then gave me a overly sensual back massage.

Was that yoga? 

On a positive note, I'm pretty sure my third eye crossed some sort of dimensional barrier in savasana.  

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Long time, no update!  Here's what's been going on:

Finished my 200 hours yoga teach training close to five years ago.  Taught a couple of classes over the years, but it turns out I'm better at teaching meditation and pranayama than asana.

Hoping to start a 100 hour Mindful Yoga Therapy program in a few months, with the goal of adapting the MYT program for cardiac recovery.

Speaking of which, I am bizarrely seven years out of surgery.  How did that happen?  While discussing pathways of prana at a yoga workshop recently I asked how injuries and broken bones impact the flow of prana.  Everyone assumed I meant by sternum and various chest scarring; I honestly had briefly forgotten about all of that and was thinking of my repeatedly injured right foot (one break, one broken toe, two bad sprains, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and gout).  I seem to have passed the point where heart surgery is just a piece of my past rather than a defining point of my present.

On the gaming front, I've played a ton of Pathfinder and Fantasy Flight's Star Wars at the tabletop, and went through a great period of playing Far Cry 3 & 4, which may be the first time I've ever enjoyed playing a first person shooter.  Great stories, wrapped around mysticism and the wilderness, right up my alley. 

Along the theme of mysticism and the wilderness, I took a sharp reading turn into Occult Detectives, which got me into Simon Iff, John Taylor, Jules de Grandin, Doctor Taverner, and Doctor Owen Orient, among many others.  It's amazing how much yoga sneaks its way into these books, a good reminder that yoga has been finding it's way into western culture and imagination for centuries.

Finally, I'm moving on to a 300/500 yoga teacher training program in 2019.  

Kidnapped to Hollow Earth, Part 1

Fresh from their latest adventures, the heroes were relaxing on a ship heading home to fortune and glory when… wait what ship is this?  It’s a crashing ship!

Kidnapped onto a spaceship resembling a giant silver arrow, the heroes found themselves crashing in a strange jungle where the horizon curved upwards and the sun never sets

There was no time for introductions!  The heroes stumbled immediately upon a group of saber-toothed tiger kittens, and slaughtered all but one for the feast.  They fought off the angry tiger mother, skinned her to make a sling, then set off towards the shining beacon in the distance, collecting the bounty of avocados found along the way.

They encountered Colonel Throckmorton, hunter from the Royal Society for the Continuation of Zoocryptological Extinction, and his lackey The Crossbow Kid (v1). 
Throckmorton explained that the Ghost-Who-Walks has been bringing monsters in from a mysterious portal, making the Hollow Earth his private hunting preserve.  Some of those monsters have escaped into the surface world, which is why the Royal Society for the Continuation of Zoocryptological Extinction has set a prize for the greatest hunters to kill the Ghost-Who-Walks and shut down the monster threat.  Throckmorton warned the heroes not to trust Flat Earth Fred, so as soon as the heroes recruited The Crossbow Kid (v1) they set off to find Flat Earth Fred.

After running into a group of lumberjacks from the now devastated Finland (where the Hollow Earth connects to the surface world), the Psychic Detective engaged in a massive drinking contest and collected enough booze to satisfy his needs for the rest of the expedition, or the next several hours, whichever came first.  The heroes were directed to the fortress laboratory of Flat Earth Fred, also from the Royal Society for the Continuation of Zoocryptological Extinction, convinced that if he could win the prize then his theories that the Earth was a flat disk, riding on the back of a turtle, and that the hollow earth was in the belly of the turtle, would at last bring harmony to the Earth.

The Lizard Shaman and the Sky Raptor thought this was nonsense and began smashing various pieces of technology while the Castaway, the Kung-Fu Wizard, the Adventurer, and the Psychic Detective learned more about the Hollow Earth from Flat Earth Fred.  The Ghost-Who-Walks makes his lair at the Pyramid on Ship-Trap Mountain.  He rarely hunts the Amazons who live in the Avocado Jungle of Death, but has continuously harassed the Dinosaur Knights who built their Stilt Castle across the Bamboo Forest in the Blasted Plains.  The Bear Tribe once lived on Ship-Trap Mountain, but have been chased off by the Ghost-Who-Walks and now make their home in nearby Ragged Mountain.

The Heroes don’t notice Jungle Boy run off with the last remaining sabertooth tiger kitten, but greeted the Genius Chimp just as the Dinosaur Knights ride up with The Crossbow Kid (v2) as their guide…

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Yoga of Doctor Orient

This is the first of what will probably be a number of posts about Owen Orient, the main character of a series of occult novels written by Frank Lauria, starting in 1970’s Doctor Orient.  Over the course of eight books (or at least the 5 ½ that I’ve read so far) Orient struggles against a variety of supernatural evils, various gangsters, and the Central Intelligence Agency, aka Computer Integrated Assassins.  The tools at his disposal are wide and varied- the ability to invoke angels; telepathy; and both kundalini and tantric yoga.  It’s that last part that first caught my interest, because there aren’t a lot of books with leads who use yoga to fight evil.

Like The Shadow, The Green Lama, Doctor Strange, and Batman, Owen Orient spent a number of years in Tibet learning esoteric arts under the tutelage of a wise master in the mountains.  This is certainly where he learned his yoga, and perhaps telepathy as well.  This teacher was Ku, leader of the Nine Unknown Men who are the secret masters of the League of Serene Thought.  We don’t get a lot of information about Ku, other than when he sent his student Owen back into the world he left him with a gift- a cigarette lighter with a mandala to help Owen focus.  Turns out Himalayan mystics like to smoke (more on that later).

Orient's 1920 Rolls Royce; not everyone gets the Batmobile
At first glance Owen Orient is a model of yogic abstemiousness.  He eats a strict vegetarian diet, practices asana and meditation daily.  In his own way Orient has committed to bhakti yoga, the yoga of service, by working to bring universal harmony to the world by spreading the art of telepathy.  On the other hand, Orient pokes around the edges of this puritanical lifestyle in a way that is distinctly tantric.  He may refrain from meat, but he does occasionally drink.  Orient smokes hand rolled cigarettes that are usually tobacco, but sometimes have a certain green herb scent to them.  He’s uncommonly attached to his restored 1920 Rolls Royce Ghost limousine.  Orient follows the tantric version of brahmacharya, following a path of subtle restraint in sexual relationships rather than chastity; that is, unless he has lost his senses inside a tantric dakini (books #3 & #4) or is snorting back rails of cocaine while locked naked in a bedroom with his boss’s wife for a weekend (book #5).  In one encounter Orient mentally weighs his commitment to ahimsa against the consequences of inaction, just before smashing someone’s trachea with a rusty pipe (book #6).  If tantra means straying from the classical path and embracing a non-dualistic worldview, then Owen Orient is quite the tantric yogi.

The two worlds of Doctor Orient- sometimes you meditate, sometimes you do cocaine off a semi-naked woman
Being a tantric yogi myself, I’m fascinated by what this outlook and lifestyle in the hero of an occult detective action series. What really catches me about Orient’s outlook is how closely it is informed by the same yoga as me in some ways, yet how widely it strays from my own in others.  People ask all the time what I get out of yoga- flexibility, nice ass, a better golf game, killer moves in the sack.  Sure, I have all of those, but that’s not the main lesson I’ve taken away from the last six years of yoga practice.  What I have learned from tantra yoga is santosha, or radical acceptance, and non-attachment to goals.  For me that means accepting I cannot on my own make the world a better place.  To think that is hubris.  What I can do is through my own practice help the best parts of me emerge, and hope that version of me will be reflected in the people I encounter every day- at least until it’s time for me to go full Vanaprastha and retire to a cabin in the forest.

Owen Orient, on the other hand, has never fully grasped this message.  He sincerely believes that being able to share his practices of telepathy and esoteric yoga will make the world a better place.  In pursuing this goal Orient loses friends, loses fortunes, sleeps with the wrong women, is nearly killed numerous times, has his heart broken and his house burned down, and ultimately becomes hunted by the CIA.  Attachment to goals is Orient every day, and he suffers for it continuously.  

More on Doctor Orient in the future.