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Firm New Year’s Resolve

by Octavio Salvado.

Not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I figure if you really want to change something then you’ll just fucking do it. Having said that however, as the year draws to an end, there is one thing that I intend to address more tenaciously in 2017, because if you don’t know this about your Yoga…. then you really don’t know much.

This conversation revolves specifically around ‘Traditional’ pose categorization. In many modern circles, poses are classified in a way that has no relevance to their Pranic effect.

For example, take STANDING POSES, ARM BALANCES, SEATED POSES, HIP OPENERS. All of these, although they may be beneficial in terms of understanding general sequencing, they are ‘Pranically inconsequential’ and play minimal role in relation to using Yoga to its fullest capacity.

The 6 categories of Traditional Hatha are:

  • Forward Bends
  • Twists
  • Laterals
  • Backbends
  • Extensions
  • Inversions

Side note: When it comes to inversions I’m only talking about Headstand and Shoulderstand. Handstand and Pinchamayurasana do not belong in this group. If your teacher ever says to you something like, ‘class, there’s 10 minutes to go please do an inversion’ and includes either of the latter two, then you know that they have not done their homework or is suffering from some kind of severe head trauma. Because in terms of both the Pranic and mental effect of these two inverted hand-balances when compared with true inversions, the results are worlds apart. But lets save that conversation for another time.

The bigger story is that ALL of the six pose categories trigger a unique response in one or a combination of the Prana Vayus. This was always the key purpose of Asana, because the follow on effect of influencing Prana is that it allows you to then influence perception in a systematic, dependable way. Mind and Energy, Moon and Sun always move together.

Lets take the example of Lateral poses. Biomechanically these stretch and strengthen the muscles along the side of the body, they also tone the lungs, kidneys and adrenals. Great. We want all of that, yet the subtle effects are much more interesting and profound when it comes to understanding the complete reach of Yoga.

Lateral poses initiate three separate movements of the Prana Vayus: 1) Pran Vayu 2) Udana Vayu and 3) Vyana Vayu.

Pran Vayu creates a vitalizing yet internalizing effect. Udana Vayu, responsible for moving energy up the central energetic column within the spine also has an internalizing effect yet is also uplifting and Vyana vayu produces a sense of energetic expansion.
In other words, the result of a ‘Laterals’ focused class is mental internalization coupled with a radiant sense of energetic expansion. It’s very specific, incredibly powerful and generates a meditative state different from states produced by any of the other categories, each having their own unique effect.

There are definitely times when combining categories is advantageous. When the focus is on Inversions, for example, all pose categories are utilized to prepare for them both physically and energetically. For the most part however, combining pose categories, as we see a great deal these days, creates a total mish-mash of Prana and as a result, Meditation remains elusive.

The image my Teacher uses is this: if you have a glass of water and squeeze a drop of yellow food colouring into it, then the water turns a brilliant yellow colour. But if you then squeeze a drop of red in…. and then a blue drop, the water becomes more and more murky and before long the ‘pure colour’ is unrecognizable.

Essentially… everything turns brown. Modern Vinyasa is mostly brown. Please enjoy.

So this is what I mean when I say, ‘Poses for Prana, not vice versa’.

To reiterate, the poses are there to influence Prana in a unique and individual way that then guides our minds towards a very specific meditative state. Unfortunately this knowledge has largely been lost over time. I’m almost certain that the great Yogi, T. Krishnamacharya is looking down on us from the upper Lokas, scratching his bald head wondering what the hell we are doing with all of this craziness, smashing around like a Pranic demolition derby.

So, Yogis, this is why it’s our firm New Year’s resolve here at The Practice to commit above all things to KEEPING TRADITION ALIVE, because if we lose Tradition, we lose everything. I believe that if what we truly want in life is to excel, to break free of the confines of mental mediocrity, then this information is not only helpful, it is indispensable. It is nothing short of the single concept that will change the way you experience your entire existence.

Wishing you an amazing New Year… and an amazing new LIFE.

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The Big Idea That You Are

by Octavio Salvado.

What if someone told you that you were here on earth in your exact body and life for a very specific reason, on a very important spiritual mission and that creation was counting on you to fulfill that mission? Well, that’s exactly what Yoga is telling you.

The Tradition suggests that inside all of us is a dormant power waiting to unleash our highest potential so that we can become a vibrant force in the world and participate in the grand spiritual unfoldment of humanity.

Unfortunately, Yoga also asserts that we don’t have free access to that hidden power, that all of us come into life ‘bound’ and that these bindings limit our perception and disallow us from experiencing who we truly are.

In their universal expression these limiting forces are known as the Gunas, often translated as ‘attributes’ (as in attributes of nature), however whenever we see the Bija (Seed) sound ‘Gu’ we can be sure that something sticky is being communicated. For example, the word ‘Gu-Ru’ is a two-part word that translates to ‘The one who unsticks us from our ‘Gu’, our limitations’.

So it’s an Interesting one, the Gunas act as the limiting factor that keep things stuck and simultaneously the container that allows life to happen. Without the Gunas life would be all molecules and sound frequencies absent of any kind of cohesion…. and that’s not going to be good for anyone.

The Gunas also work through our physical, mental and energetic bodies. When they are well configured and in balance, the realization of our higher reasons for being here surface very naturally. We know ‘why’ we are here and ‘what’ we need to do in order to bring that vision to life. When the Gunas augment however, through our poor choices, our beliefs, our diet, our environment, our upbringing or education, then we lose sight of the ‘Big Idea that we are’ and default instead to mediocrity.

The Traditional term for the way the Gunas internally bind themselves is ‘Grunthi’ or ‘Spiritual Knot’. These obstacles along the spiritual path are said to develop within the subtle body locations of the first, third and fifth Chakras and inhibit our process of awakening. These knots keep us living out our ordinary day to day lives, passing time away in the material world, eating, sleeping, desiring, avoiding and growing old.

In addition to doing the work of building and containing more vital force within the body, the three primary Bandhas (a set of powerful practices belonging to Traditional Hatha Yoga) were use specifically to unravel these Grunthies. Each Bandha targets a specific Chakra center along the spine, either the Root, the Navel or the Throat, where the Gunas become bound. Unfortunately, Bandhas, along with Mudras and many other traditional practices that add significant value to Hatha Yoga have been overlooked and ignored in modern Yoga circles.

In regards to the binding forces themselves, the first Guna is called Tamas and is likened to inertia but really represents all the things ‘we’re not seeing’. Essentially, Tamas equates to darkness, and the more of it we have, the less capacity we have to align ourselves to our destiny, our Big Idea.

When Tamas augments inside of an individual it is called Brahma Grunthi and is directly connected to the Muladhara Chakra, our Root Center. It is like a weightiness that dulls motivation and our capacity to simply ‘get things started’. Laziness is an expression of Brahma Grunthi. The traditional Yogic practice of Mulabandha, or drawing the pelvic floor muscles upward works directly on unbinding this knot and releasing previously stagnant energy from around the base of the spine.

The second Guna, called Rajas is the quality of movement and momentum in nature, it is the agent of change, that which mobilizes. Imagine a ball that starts rolling down a hill. This ball is not going to stop on its own. The nature of reality is ’change’, so we are always moving, and we use Rajas to get where we’re going, either towards more darkness or towards more light, those are our choices.

Rajas has an association further up the spine with the third Chakra, Manipura and expresses its augmentation as the spiritual knot known as Vishnu Grunthi. Manipura means ‘City of Jewels’ due to the navel’s position as the body’s biggest storehouse of immense power and some of the greatest ‘Mind-jewels’ required by the Yogi on the path of awakening. Qualities such as confidence, courage, enthusiasm, assimilative power (both physical and mental), vitality and clear perception all arise from the navel center.

When Vishnu Grunthi is influencing us however, we lack the will to change our habits and behaviors and continue to act according to old, worn-out, pre- programed patterns. Uddiyana Bandha, drawing the abdomen and inner organs inwards and upwards works specifically on this particular binding, empowering the third center and in turn developing our will power and capacity to make the transformative life-changes required.

Thirdly we have the force of Sattva – Balance. However, it is important to note that Sattva is not a combination of 50% Tamas and 50% Rajas. Sattva is an independent quality of light and clarity. This clarity brings more capacity to choose the higher choice because we begin to ‘see’ more and sense more of the innate interconnectedness between all things

Just as important to note however, as Lord Krishna clearly states in the Bhagavad Gita, is that all Gunas are binding, even Sattva and although in one sense the goal of Yoga is to cultivate more Sattva, the supreme goal is to move into the space of limitlessness that exists beyond all three of nature’s sticky attributes.

This subject raises an interesting question: How can clarity be binding? Simple. When it turns to judgement. When we are completely absorbed by ‘what we think we know’ to the point of being incapable of recognizing that life is asking us to evolve our worldview, then our once clear understanding has been tainted by mental patterning – Shiva Grunthi, the third spiritual knot.

Shiva Grunthi is related to the throat Chakra, Vishuddha and deals specifically with our unchecked thought tendencies, our beliefs and the stories that we run. Vishuddha means ‘Center of Great Purity’ and its energy governs both our verbal speech and simultaneously the ‘voice inside our head’. When the thinking mind is not brought under control, then, like a broken record stuck in a groove, we keep on playing the same inner dialogue despite what life is actually trying to communicate to us from the here and now.

Jalandhara Bandha, often referred to as the ‘chin-lock’ begins to release the mind from repetitive thoughts as the intellect becomes systematically pacified. ‘Jalan’ means ‘to net’ or ‘catch’ and refers to the netting of Prana below the collarbones before it has a chance to pass through the throat and into the frontal lobes of the brain where it will empower and in most cases ‘over-empower’ the thought producing functions of the mind.

The modern practice of lifting the chin on inhalation during Vinyasa Yoga has a ‘very’ specific application and traditional Yoga strongly suggests that it should be avoided by people with busy minds…. Which these days means basically everybody.

It’s a shame that so many traditional teachings and techniques have been overlooked in the modern age of Yoga. When practiced correctly and with the right attitude, they are the exact tools that do the inner work of clearing the internal obstructions that bind our perception and stop us from seeing who we are and how incredible life in its essence truly is.

This is one of our biggest missions here at the Practice, to safely yet sternly re-infuse these powerful, ancient practices back into the Yogic mainstream, back into the heart of Yoga where they belong.

Yoga is not interested in us playing small. The technology brought forward by the ancient science of Hatha Yoga is based on the recognition that we are all designed for illumination, not subordination. To be clear however, the Tradition also suggests that the path will ‘not’ be easy and that ‘going with the flow’ is not part of the Hatha Yoga worldview.

In fact, the Tradition tells us that the road will be long and full of challenges and that in the end, only the wholehearted will cultivate the necessary subtle heat to unstick themselves from whatever ‘Gu’, calamity or sub-extraordinary situation they find themselves in. The ‘Gu’ exists for all of us. No way around that one unfortunately. The only way beyond the ‘Gu’, is through it. Which brings me to my final point.

If we genuinely decide to pick up the ancient torch of Yoga and make it our life rather than our hobby, then Tradition would ask one final thing of us: to broaden our perspective. To hold to the vision that each and every obstacle we encounter is not a problem to be solved or a concept to be judged, but rather a ‘fundamental’ piece of our own self-implemented design, without which, we would never get the chance to fully reveal and experience our hidden gifts and true nature as spiritual beings.

To clarify, It’s about holding to the higher principles of Contentment and Gratitude throughout all the trials and challenges we endure, knowing that it is specifically because of these bindings that we can come to know liberation in all of its ‘experiential’ splendor and remember for ourselves, beyond all concepts, why we are here and ultimately embody, with radical authenticity, the Grand Idea that we truly are.

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Ride The Peacock

by Octavio Salvado.

I am ruled by the God of War.

At least that’s what Vedic Astrology suggests. In Hinduism, Mars is called Mangal and is seen as the planet responsible for the sheer, raw energy that powers our actions. Unfortunately for me however, Mars represents the specific actions we perform that have no reasoning behind them, our animal instincts and often ‘poorly thought out’ reactions.

Hindu’s also associate the planet Mars with all inflammable products.

I can relate.

Lord Murugan, second son of Shiva is the major deity associated with Mars, Lord of the Celestial Army, God of War. I feel him in my blood.

So when I learned that the neighbor was building a 2 level, 15 meter high, brick shit-house… I mean home-stay basically right on top of us, my initial reaction was to go over there and punch him in the face. Namaste.

I simmered down after a few minutes (ok days) and my next thought was to build a 30m high statue of Lord Murugan with the tip of his spear pointing at the back of my neighbor’s building. I mentally designed the whole thing, complete with a very elegant peacock-shaped water fountain to drown out the construction noise and surely get a few extra likes on Instagram.

Hindu Gods always have a vehicle. When I first learned of Murugan’s, I have to come clean that I was not very impressed, in fact I felt embarrassed for him. There was Shiva, good-old Dad riding a giant white bull, the symbol of virility while little Murugan was left trotting around on his shiny, green bird.

But here’s the thing about India, you have to dig a little deeper than the periphery. What you see is not always what you get. Quite often it’s the crooked, hunched over, old man serving chai that gives you the download that will change your destiny.

So in the case of Murugan, I knew I had to keep my 3 eyes open and take a deeper look.

In the Yogic tradition the Peacock symbolizes our own capacity to inwardly alchemize poison into nourishment, like the peacock does with the venom of the Cobra. In this way, the combination of Murugan and his prissy, yet very powerful bird present us with a choice. No, it’s not the choice of fight or don’t fight. As the Bhagavad Gita assures us, life is a battlefield, hiding and shrinking away from living a life of meaning is not an option.

Backing out of the confrontation is not the choice. We can’t control life. Believe me, I’ve tried. She’s relentless! And she knows that it’s her duty to prod us, lovingly (sometimes) and gift us the opportunity to sharpen our tools. No, the choice is about how we manage ourselves in moments of confrontation and more interestingly, in times of outward defeat. Can we alchemize the situation so that it becomes nourishment?

Do we lay down and die. Or do we transmute adversity into excellence, into wisdom, into humility, growth and compassion?

The struggle ‘is’ the nourishment, it’s built in. Every obstacle presents the opportunity to refine our authenticity, to deepen our Yoga and become more of who we truly are.

So at The Practice, that’s exactly what we’re doing. Alchemizing. In October we will be smashing down some walls (I think I’ll help Kadek with that one) in order to reposition the studio to the East. Honestly, this is where it should have been facing all along, the direction of the rising Sun. The direction of self-accountability and taking responsibility for the choices we make. East is the direction of Yoga.

The construction next door typically starts around 830am, which pokes me in my edgy bits a little but again, there’s genuine nourishment in it. As of next month we will begin greeting the rising sun in the East and hour earlier. Practice will begin at 7am. This is a truly supreme time to practice. Catching the morning light, taking it deep inside and using it to consciously create the day ahead. Life is refining our authenticity.

The Practice, I have to say is a pretty strong battalion. Not because outwardly we always get what we want, but because internally we know how to alchemize, we know how to ride the Peacock. We’re ready for everything. Alchemical Engineers. Smashing down walls to build bigger dreams.

Lets see, we still might build that 30 meter statue of the God of War, but at least the urge to punch my neighbor in the face is gone.


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Music, Awakening and A Little Divine Madness

by Octavio Salvado.

I’m not sure when we stopped singing in circles or why we moved away from celebrating music for its potential to purify our minds. The ancients knew about it – the pure power of sound. They believed that beyond the Maya – the illusion of matter, everything was sound, even ourselves.

After practicing Yoga for 15 years with an enthusiasm that occasionally borderlined obsession, i can tell you that the bulk of my deepest experiences have bloomed up from the fertile garden-bed of wild, unrefined devotional music circles known as ‘Kirtan’ or ‘Bhajan’.

Kirtan is a meeting place for our raw, vulnerable hearts and often shaky voices and because of that, because of the very transparent contextual field it creates, real Yoga, which is Union, flourishes. I have never been to a kirtan that didn’t leave me feeling more positive about life.

I remember a time, sitting in the Indian dust for hours as music poured simultaneously into and out of me. Harmoniums droning. Bells, drums and sweaty palms banging like heartbeats. Rough and devoted voices melding. I was a rookie back then. I had no idea about Shiva or Krishna, but the mantras hit me like lightening and left me completely unable to contain my tears of longing and joy or control my body that shook like a thundercloud.

That inner storm lasted for weeks. Pulsing in and out of what must have looked like madness to someone unable to feel the melodies of clarity and love streaming through my body.

Sometimes I wonder if the only difference between mental breakdown and spiritual insight…. Is geography? In India if someone hears voices in their head, sees visions or shakes uncontrolably, the first trip is to the temple, not the nuthouse.

Perhaps that’s what scares us about Kirtan? The fact that we don’t yet have a society that undrstands or supports awakening. And Kirtan can do that. Music can do that – Wake us up. These bodies are built for awakening, designed for it, encoded with the unavoidable inevitability of going mad…. With love.

Music is the ON switch.

And that is why the simple act of singing together with intentionality is so powerful. In that space we are held and supported regardless of our stories, the quality of our voice, our name, our beliefs, the way we dress, how much money we earn, how we spend our nights. None of that matters and in that kind of freedom, awakening naturally springs up from the underground and teaches us something that book knowledge never could.

The one unmistakable truth resounding from the teachings of all the ancient Sages – that we are all in this together, and furthermore that each of us has the potential to truly meet ourselves and each other in our purest form, beyond the flesh, as pure, divinely inspired music.

“What makes us feel drawn to music is that our whole being is music: our mind and body, the nature in which we live, the nature which has made us, all that is beneath and around us, it is all music.” 

– Hazrat Inyat Khan (Sufi Master 1882-1927)

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The Times They are A-Changin’

by Octavio Salvado.

The entire Universe turns in cycles of nine, in case you were wondering. At the completion of each cycle, be it nine days, nine months or nine years, everything starts over again. Life goes in circles for those who are not on their dharmic path, and spirals upwards, evolving and expanding for those who are.

I had a realization about a year ago, nine years after meeting my teacher, that I had drifted a long way from his impeccable teachings based on the ancient science of traditional Yoga and was practicing in a way that wasn’t evolving my mind or my character.

At a fundamental level, although I was practicing everyday and from the periphery, working hard at it, I was still making poor choices and reacting to things in ridiculous ways. This realization led me to question EVERYTHING… even the validity of yoga itself.

And then the light switched on, ‘its not yoga, its HOW I’m practicing it that’s not only ‘not’ helping, its making me worse’. So I stripped everything back to the bones and returned to the beginning, my beginnings, and recommenced practicing Yoga the same way I had originally learned it – slowly, with an emphasis on the subtle, inner world rather than the dynamic external.

I went back into my old books and studyied everything over again, with fresh and desperate eyes, as if I knew nothing, simply compelled forward by the fear of constantly repeating my mistakes and the undeniable truth that I was in trouble. There it was, highlighted in orange, a single sentence beaming back at me from the beaten pages of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika:

“Once the Moon has been made steady, the Sun can be made to rise”.

These fourteen encrypted words are now the basis for our entire Yoga program at The Practice. The Moon is a reference to the MIND and the Sun it’s complimentary opposite, PRANA, here yoked together in one worldview obliterating Sutra from one of the oldest Hatha Yoga text on the planet explaining: Unless we slow down, calm down, get mentally stable first, then cultivating more Prana through practice is a recipe for disaster, because like Sunlight, Prana shines and illuminates everything it touches. Whatever is in the mind and nervous system it will amplify, essentially, Yoga will make us ‘more’ of whatever we already are and will not discriminate between our positive and negative qualities. That is our job.

And that’s exactly what I was doing – Pumping myself with Prana, which is pure power. Trust me. The practices work and so positive parts were becoming more refined and negative parts more exaggerated. My personality was splitting in half.

At a brand new pace, I dove back into the study of everything that I had once known yet somehow forgotten. I stopped practicing the way I had and anytime my intensity seeking, unconscious practice habits swayed me, my body would break out in a rash. I stopped teaching that way too. A lot of people when we opened The Practice were expecting something from me based on what they knew of me previously. However what they received, are still receiving and will continue to receive is something very different.

I’m very proud of us for that – For making a stand in support of the true science of Yoga in a world awash with mostly mindless Vinyasa. Likewise I’m deeply grateful for all those who stand with us.

Don’t panic! We still teach Vinyasa at The Practice, which falls into the SUN category, however the emphasis has shifted from the periphery to the subtle. Here, we use the practice to deepen our relationship to the energetic world of Prana, to that dynamic current of power and love within us, rather than the dynamic hustle and bustle of muscles and bones.

Did you know that from the little understood perspective of Kundalini Tantra, the Sun is considered Feminine? Actually, to be more specific, everything in nature is both Masculine and Feminine, however as we go deeper into the energetics of yoga (Tantra), the Sundial slides towards woman.

Woman after all, like the Sun, ‘is’ that force in nature that ‘gives life’ and at their fundamental core, both are about energy, feeling, expansion, radiance, joy and essentially, love. This puts a very different spin on our Vinyasa practice and Sun Salutes doesn’t it? These practices were never meant to be aggressive or competitive, in this, so much of the Yoga world has it backwards. I had it backwards.

The counterpart to this concept, or we could say the counter-path is the way of the Moon, which according to the traditional teachings is the symbol of the Mind, also known as Chitta and considered the Masculine principle. This is why the Crescent Moon sits atop Shiva’s head. Moon energy, combined with asana or simply as an expression in nature brings meditation, calmness, steadiness, presence, awareness, focus and perseverance, true qualities of a balanced and empowered Man and Mind-qualities that set up a base of integrity for the deeper work of cultivating more Prana, more Sun.

To be clear, Moon classes are not like Yin. Yin is a different system and an exceptional tool in its own right. Moon Practices use asana to provoke a mental challenge, calling our focus and steadiness into action, working with longer holds, forward folds and twists and constantly seeking out that part of our mind that simply ‘witnesses’. For example, think about holding Warrior 3 for 1 minute, carefully transitioning to Revolved Half Moon for another minute and then carefully back to Warrior 3 for another half minute. Wow… for most people the mind, not the body (although we sometimes blame the body) is screaming to escape.

Good, let it scream. That’s the point of Moon Practice: Developing an indestructible resolve to stay steady coupled with an unflinching focus and a deep connection to the inner part of us immune to all changes.

As previously mentioned, Sun practices including Vinyasa are about deepening our relationship to Prana, energy. It takes a very subtle, calm and skillful mind to be able to sense the unseen. If the mind is active during Sun Practice, Prana will make it more active, so even our Vinyasa classes are tempered with a steadiness and moonlike quality of calm. I see the unquestionable value in this now.

For a ‘work-out’ go to the gym, go for a jog, or call it what it is – gymnastics. Yoga is something entirely different. I’m committed to making this distinction clear, even if that means stepping on some toes. I’m not here to make friends or please people. My mission, our mission here at The Practice is bigger than that.

So that is how we are breaking the classes up here at the Practice – in the traditional way, following the ancient map of MOON SUN FIRE.

Fire Practice, just briefly, is the culmination of the entire path of Yoga. I’m sure it wont be too surprising when I tell you that its not about cultivating peripheral heat through dynamic movement. Fire Practice is the unifying of Sun and Moon, code for Energy and Mind, to systematically melt away the subtle limitations that bind our perception and restrict us from accessing our highest potential.

In order to do that, the deeper layers of practice are required because asana alone cannot do those things. Asana, Bandha, Mudra, Mantra, Pranayama, Concentration and Meditation come together to spark an inner illumination that literally changes the way we see ourselves and the world around us – What the ancients referred to as the awakening of Kundalini-Shakti. This is ultimately where the path of Yoga is leading us, and the path we are committed to here at The Practice.

When I self reflect, to be honest, I sometimes feel guilty about how many minds I must have disturbed during my teaching career due to my lack of understanding and respect for what yoga truly is and does.

The Practice as a Yoga School is my way to make it right again, to wipe away some of the karmic debt I’ve incurred through my teaching. I want to help people evolve, not in terms of poses, but in terms of personality, in terms of attitude, so that their whole lives can become more beautiful, radiant, peaceful and harmonious and I truly believe that yoga, practiced and taught correctly can do that.

Much love,


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Tantra as Service

by Octavio Salvado.

When Ram Dass asked his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba how to find God, Guruji’s answer was simple, “Feed people. Serve People.” Essentially, practice comes to its fullest fruition only when the fruits are offered to the world. Yoga will make you more powerful, that’s just the reality. It would be lovely to think that yoga in and of itself cultivated love, but just take a look at the disarray and debauchery in the modern yoga scene and you’ll quickly dismiss the idea.

The Pranic energy cultivated through sustained and committed practice is not ‘like’ the energy of the Sun, it ‘is’ the energy of the Sun, and as such it empowers and illuminates whatever it touches. If you don’t purify your mind and intentions, those impurities will also get charged. Sexual frustration, violence, deception, Shiva doesn’t judge you for those, He showers His grace on the Gods and the Demons both, whoever worships Him through dedicated practice receives a little portion of His infinite power.

This is why a mindset of Service is essential. Service is the sword that slices off our head and removes any ideas about getting more powerful for our own sake.

I call this the Macro Universe of Intent. Are your day to day choices in line with the bigger picture? Honest self-reflection is a must. Are your practices in service of the whole? And if not, you may want to check that, because there are far too many stories, both ancient and modern of good men turned bad by power to ignore. Even if the ‘Macro’ is your family or your relationship, great! Practice your heart out so you can show up and be a better Dad, a better partner, or a better example for your community.

Whatever the goal, let me give you some advice, ‘place it beyond you’. Expand the light beyond the confines of your little, singular self. Then not only Shiva but all the Gods and Goddesses will bless you with their smiles and support.

‘To expand beyond our limits’, this is one translation of the word ‘Tantra’. Another translation is ‘Technology’. So we could say: Tantra is the technology that moves us beyond our limitations or limited views’. For me personally, Tantra is the ultimate tool and technology for Service.

First lets get on the same page. Although the birthplace of Asana is Tantra, most people these days don’t practice it that way. Modern yoga is primarily concerned with the body rather than energy and presence, the two pillars of true Tantra. And for the record, Tantra is not about sex. Again, its about clarity and energy. 99% of Tantra deals with understanding and cultivating the dormant energies within our own bodies. Only a minute fraction of the Tantric Path incorporates the addition of a second person. Because lets be honest, its hard enough managing our own energy let alone someone else’s!

Either way, the rules of physics apply. You have to give energy to get energy. No escaping that one. However, what makes the tantric approach, combining Asana with Pranayama, Bandhas and Mudras for example a more intelligent and dare I say it, elegant way to practice, is that you expend ‘less’ energy while cultivating more of it.

With a regular asana practice, for sure, you get some prana in your tank…. but you also spend a lot at the same time, at least in regards to the way most of the modern world practices asana today. Trust me, I know about this from years of personal experience. Or did you think all of those Chaturangas came for free?

The long story made short is this: The true essence of practice and cultivating more energy is that it empowers us to be able to share our authentic gifts in a way that serves the world. The less energy we spend and the more energy we generate, the more we can give to the whole and the further our reach as yogis, partners, parents, friends and teachers.

Like cells within a body, we are all in this together. If the liver cells are thriving but the kidney cells are malfunctioning…. well, we have problem. The collective has a problem. So that’s the deal. Become a vibrant force in the world. Light up the darkness inside of yourself using the least amount of energy possible, then in your own unique and magnificent way, light up every single heart, mind and moment that you touch.

Nourish it. Feed it. Serve it. Simple.

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Lead Me to What?

by Octavio Salvado.

Mahatma Gandhi said it perfectly, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. It starts with ourselves, and quite often the crusade is a silent one.

I remember when I first got into Yoga. I thought I needed to change the world one annoying speech at a time, but all I did was piss people off and lose friends. Not a very successful outcome given that what I really wanted was to help people find more freedom and joy in their lives.

We live and learn…. Hopefully.

My first genuine mentor put it in a way that I never forgot. If you enter a restaurant and notice that the guy sitting next to you is drinking water from a dirty glass, chances are that if you say to him, “mate, your glass is dirty,” you will either offend or embarrass him. If, on the other hand you simply order your own glass of water and position it on your table in a way that he can see it, then most likely, he will make his own comparison and call the waiter over to change his glass for a cleaner one.

In essence, what I’m getting at this. Often the best advice we can give is the advice not spoken, it’s the advice we embody. Put another way, shut your mouth and simply BE the radiant example. If people are inspired and compelled to change their ways based on who you are being, great. If not, also great! But serving up sermons when people don’t ask for them is asking for discord. Trust me, I was an expert once.

Leadership is an inside thing. It doesn’t need to justify or prove its worth because its value can be felt, just like peace can be felt if you’ve ever been fortunate enough to be in the same room as a true Master. The Master doesn’t need to say anything, you can feel their presence, you can sense who they are.

What is this silent, inside power that true leaders seem to accumulate and radiate outwards like the rays of the Sun? The Yoga Tradition calls it Prana, the pure creative potential that gives everything in the universe life. With the right practices and attitude, Prana can be generated and stored like a battery stores charge. The Yogis of old encoded the concept of Prana with the symbol of the Sun, the giver of life. Who is the giver of life? Woman gives life. Not man. Man is simply the witness.

Isn’t it fascinating that modern Yoga teaches the exact opposite – That Sun is masculine. It raises the question – ‘Where is modern, innovative yoga disconnected from tradition leading us’. Perhaps this is one reason why yoga has become a sex and ego infused billion-dollar commercial beast instead of its original function as a science, designed to guide people towards a deeper capacity to radiate the energy of love.

It is true that the ‘Sun’ refers to the dynamic principle in nature, but the ancient texts don’t talk about dynamic hips or hamstrings, or active muscles powering through vinyasa transitions. The Yoga Tradition is not interested in those things. It is interested in the dynamic power of energy. The energy that sustains us and allows us to function in the first place.

In Tantra, Prana is often anthropomorphized as different forms of the Goddess or ‘Shakti’. There is a wonderful story about the birth of Goddess Kali, a controversial and fierce Devi representing a strong expression of pranic movement. At first glance she is utterly terrifying! Holding high a bloody head freshly severed from the neck of an unlucky demon. Her tongue is out, lapping up the spilled blood, eyes blazing, bare breasted, adorned with a necklace of 50 skulls. Its easy to see why this Goddess is often associated with sexuality and violence, but that is only on the periphery. The true essence of Kali is love. Again, everything depends on how deep we want to dig. The same can be said for dynamic practices such as vinyasa, the external movements of the body are only the means to cultivate and connect with the energy within. Yet somehow, looking outwardly sexy and throwing limbs around violently has become the international status quo. It’s a shame, because the heart of this practice is the heart itself. The mission of movement is to sensitize ourselves to Prana, generate more of it and then direct it towards the heart. Because its not until we have enough Prana in the heart that we can genuinely hold our awareness there and live from that place. The battery has to charge before the lights can switch on.

Returning to the mythic narrative, Durga, the Mother and protector Goddess is doing battle with the demon, Mahisa. Durga becomes furious and her anger crystalizes into the dark Goddess, Kali who bursts out of her forehead. Kali, wild as lightning starts swinging her swords and taking off the heads of whoever is unlucky enough to be near her. She does away with the demon and his demon army but her blood lust cannot be contained. Kali rages on and even the Gods are powerless to calm her. Eventually the God’s pray to the Great God, Shiva – Lord of Yoga for help, who awakens from meditation and travels to Kali’s battleground. Seeing her state, Prana gone wild, Shiva lays his still body down on the earth and eventually, Kali in her frenzy stands on him. As soon as she feels Shiva’s steady frame under her feet, Kali immediately simmers down and returns to her loving, motherly form.

And be sure, Prana ‘can’ and ‘does’ go wild, just like sunlight can burn. To avoid this catastrophe, it is suggested (if you have a good teacher) that all pranic cultivation is to be done on a solid base of mental stability and calm. Notice what icon Shiva wears on his head – The Crescent Moon, representing Mind (Chitta). Yogis who focus only on dynamic practice without stabilizing their minds through meditation and self reflection first will have a very hard time sensing themselves as pranic beings. The focus will stay on the periphery and energy will continue to move along the paths of least resistance, empowering all of the pre-established tendencies and behavioral patterns, be they in service of growth or against it. Prana, like sunlight, does not discern.

Over the last 15 years I have heard many yoga teachers teach that the essential nature of the masculine is dynamic, when in actuality, the Yoga Tradition teaches the opposite. The pure masculine, according to Yoga is pure presence, consciousness, stillness, Shiva wearing the Moon. Yes, we men move rocks and build things and like to show off our muscles, but that is only on the periphery. The true power of man is deep inside a still and silent core. My guess is that any woman centered in her own authentic, love-infused power would agree – Real masculinity is about presence, and presence is a state of mind.

Perhaps this changes the way you approach your Sun Salutations?

Ha and Tha. Sun and Moon. Prana and Chitta. Energy and Mind. Woman and Man.

Sound a little different to what you’ve been told? The crux of it is this. Neither perspective is wrong. It simply depends on where you want to focus your attention – on the inside power or the outside power? We are always free to choose.

My take on it is this. You can take it or leave it. True leaders aren’t the ones who make the most noise, or have the most followers or headline the biggest festivals. True leaders are the ones who have taken up the inevitable silent crusade we eventually all must take, leading themselves first beneath the peripheral luster of what’s popular, deep into their own unique and essential core.

A good question for contemplation, I’ll place it where you can see it:

Where is your yoga leading you?

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by Octavio Salvado.

Belonging is an essential part of being human, a fundamental thread that weaves together some of the sweetest moments of our strange little lives. It has taken me a long time to figure this out and even now, it terrifies me. Because being a soloist is so much easier, there is a lot more room to hide.

In my twenties and early thirties i used my practice as a means to sidestep facing up to the fear of being fully seen. I felt imperfect and unworthy of being accepted for my totality. After all, i was a yoga teacher! Weren’t they meant to be flawless?

So rather than risk the pain of humiliation, i hid inside meditation and mantra, early nights and internal judgements until i did a fairly remarkable job of building myself an impenetrable fortress. The only issue was that i accidentally built mirrors all along the interior walls, so every time i closed my eyes, all i saw was myself. Fantastic irony isn’t it? But thats the thing about meditation. It works.

The more i sat and truly looked, the more i saw how afraid i was, how much i desperately wanted more connection in my life, more community, more love and that secretly I longed to feel the deeper sense of belonging that exists below the shallow waters of just fitting in. Fitting in is easy. Belonging takes real courage.

I think what it comes down to for a lot of us, is shame. A feeling that our authentic, unrefined selves aren’t worthy of acceptance. So we hide, we Tweet, we Facebook, we touch up our photos and botox our faces. Shame is a big word. Its hard to vocalize, let alone claim. Yet almost paradoxically its in the vulnerable owning of it that the door to real connection unsticks and opens up.

There’s a beautiful (and brutal, as shame stories usually are) story from the Puranas that speaks about one man’s shame and his resulting public decapitation. Its a Shiva myth. A good one.

Daksha is the father of Goddess, Sati who has chosen the unconventional, yet completely authentic Lord Shiva as her husband. Shiva is like the girl at the party who’s wearing a t-shirt with fluorescent green geckos stitched all over it and for some reason is carrying a kettle. Although you’re unquestionably curious, surely its not going to go unnoticed by the hipsters if you strike up a conversation. So what do you do? You do nothing. You play it safe.

Thats exactly what Daksha does. Rather than risk his reputation, he hides the fact that his daughter has chosen to wed the long haired, mostly naked, ash-smeared, skull carrying yogi. Dear Lord! What would the Jones’s say? This is what we do whenever we pretend we’re not hurting when actually we are. When we say we’re fine but actually we’re falling apart and seriously need a hug, or when we have a drug problem or an eating disorder or some other skeleton in the closet that we’re too ashamed and afraid to speak up about.

The result is never good, particularly if what we’re actually craving is to connect and feel a genuine sense of being held and supported by a collective, by a community existing beyond the shores of the little island we’ve escaped to.

There’s many elements to this story, however i’ll jump right to the point. Sati, the feminine principle representing our prana, our vitality makes a rather dramatic statement and publicly throws herself on the sacrificial fire. This is the depletion of our energy, health issues, think exhaustion as a result of the supreme effort it takes to carry on an identity facade, particularly a public one. Shiva who is authenticity, but also the highest aspect of our awareness will only tolerate self deception and self sabotage for so long before stepping in. Im not sure if you noticed, but life is self correcting that way. One way or another it always moves towards balance. We can make the adjustments ourselves, or they will be made for us.

Daksha chooses to play his hand and hope for the best. It doesn’t end well. In fact, it ends with his head on a stake. It ends with a public and painful leveling. It ends, as it usually does – all coming to light in the bright, uncompromising, unflinching glow of unavoidable transparency.

The good news is, eventually Sati is reborn as the divine yogini, Parvati and once more unites with her Eternal Love, Shiva. Consciousness and energy, beliefs and vitality absent of shame and fear are once again free to fill the world with a love born of authentic connection. As it should be.

We say we want connection, we say we want community, but what are we willing to show for it? Because nothing less than everything will suffice. True belonging first requires radical authenticity, to ourselves and to others, otherwise the best we can do is fit in, and there’s no real love in that… only likes and follows.

The path of Yoga has taught me that. So have the honesty and often painful reflections of my friends and my amazing partner. That if we want it all, we have to be willing to risk it all. Before we can move outwards, we first have to move inwards.

In the dark little corners of our mind, real courage is born. Armed with that, we can reveal our totality – our ugliness, our fear, our imperfections as well as all of the ways we shine and contribute. We are never going to be perfect. Not perfect people, perfect partners, perfect parents or perfect yogis. But we are still worthy of love and belonging. We all still deserve community in our lives.

Nevertheless, community is not something we get for free. We have to earn it.

Im learning that.

Practicing with the right attitude, the right intention, getting humble enough to ask for the right kind of help, meeting others as we truly are – fear, shame, insecurities and all, are the first steps. Because even though it may seem the contrary, community, connection and love are not born and do not exist outside of ourselves.

Like everything else worth living for, the epicentre of belonging is deep inside.

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Principles of The Practice

by Octavio Salvado.

Life certainly looks complicated, just as physical reality certainly looks physical.

In both cases however, subscribing to these ideas simply indicates that Maya has you by the balls.

From the vantage point of Yoga, Maya is the concealing force that covers the truth of the way things are with an illusory veil. We don’t like to admit it, but most of the time it’s for our own damn good. Flashback to Arjuna, chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita who has his tender little mind blown after demanding that Krishna remove the curtain and gift him a vision of the Undifferentiated Absolute. It’s too much for Arjuna, far too much at once. So Maya is a shield as much as a sheath, a blessing as much as a covering.

Regardless, the point is, things are rarely as they appear. Reality, as science is now proving is vibratory in nature and notphysical like we once believed. Likewise, life isn’t, or doesn’t have to be that complex either. It’s just a case of simple mathematics, and whether we are talking about taking care of our health, nurturing our relationships or laying down the guiding principles to build a thriving business, there is only one meaningful equation to attend to and one final digit to arrive at – The number 9.

These are the secret teachings of the almost forgot science of Yantra Yoga. The peripheral science of Yantra deals with Mandalas and pretty pictures in sand, shimmering images on the backs of new-age T-shirts, yet underneath all that is a numerical code that holds the entire cosmos in place and governs every single aspect of our ordinary, everyday, absolutely incredible human lives.

Yantra is such a beautiful word, so potent in meaning. In Sanskrit, when a word ends in ‘tra’, as in man-tra, it is typically an indication that the thing itself has the capacity to protect. From one stand point, Mantra means ‘mind protection’, which is why it is considered a safe way to awaken our energy and peel back the layers of mind. Pranayama on the other hand, which does not end in ‘tra’, has a higher likelihood of disturbing the mind if not approached in the right way or facilitated by a skilled teacher.

Yantra is often translated as ‘Holding Device’, therefore, a holding device that protects reality from falling into chaos. Yantra is the mathematical blueprint behind everything, a combination of forces co-existing and inter-relating giving us the contextual field called life that allows us to play out our karmas and manifest our highest visions and sometimes our nightmares. When these forces are in balance, things naturally evolve towards the highest expression possible given the situation.

Personally, I am a product and student of Tradition. I love my teachers and likewise possess a deep gratitude for their teachers and the wisdom brought forward from some long-ago era of exquisite depth and understanding. The following is a map handed down to those who care to peer beyond the veil.

Simply stated, this universe and everything in it is governed by 9 fundamental forces. These forces run through life in every conceivable way, from the unfolding of our bodies on their journey from seed to death, to the orbits of planets as they hurl themselves around the Sun. Even our thoughts becoming words and then manifested realities move through an energetic flow chart which can be tracked from its source to its destiny along 9 single points.

Six of these forces have specific pooling points along the human spinal column where the nervous system bundles together into clusters called nerve ganglia. Here, they directly affect the way we show up in the world because they impact our glandular system and therefore the chemicals that get released into our bodies. When these forces are in balance, we are in balance, our beliefs, our thoughts, our words, our actions, our health, our relationships, our finances, our endeavors, everything. The system is protected, allowing it to thrive.

Forces 7, 8 and 9 are subtler and less tangible than the other 6 and although the essence of each can be found in everything, they have more to do with the contextual field through which the other 6 operate and co-mingle. In the Science of Tantra Yoga, forces 7,8 and 9 are considered ‘higher’ universal energies that exist outside the body, creating the stadium where the game of life can be played out.

To bring it down to the personal, right here in this moment, I am perched on the cusp of opening a community center for yoga and evolutionary learning on the Island of the Gods, Bali. To say that my wildest dream is coming alive before my eyes is a radical understatement. The game is ON. Therefore, to keep things balanced and protected I repeatedly turn my attention to the wisdom of the 9 forces; what the ancient Mayans referred to as the 9 Lords of Time and the Tantrikas understood as the energies of the Chakras. In this way I give the project every opportunity to flourish and follow its natural course, becoming the fullest expression of what I know it is capable of becoming.

A few days ago my Business mentor, Carl asked me to develop the ‘Guiding Principles’ of the business, the things that ‘The Practice’ will live and breathe by, so naturally I went straight to the underlying map of everything to construct a game plan.

Here they are, the guiding principles of The Practice Bali numbers 1 – 9. The first 6 relate more to our everyday operations and motivations, the final 3 are loftier, grander intentions. We may not post these on Facebook or paste them on the studio walls, yet you can count on them being there, as a part of the environment, as a part of the atmosphere that we breathe together.

1) Integrity. You can have confidence in the integrity of what we offer. We are dependable. The yoga system from which The Practice springs is connected to a lineage unbroken for thousands of years. Everything we do, from teaching yoga to cleaning floors will be infused with this same integrity and respectfulness.

2) Community. We are open-minded and community spirited. Our doors are wide open to everyone. Look forward to free Community classes and regular events beyond the yoga schedule that bring people together to share ideas, laughter, music and more.

3) Leadership. We strive to be positive role models within the local and global communities. We are leaders in the field, risk takers, freedom lovers, doers that make shit happen. We want to contribute to raising the bar in regards to practice and teaching standards worldwide.

4) Service. The currents of compassion and generosity will carry us out into the world. We are here to serve. Community outreach programs and charity events will be a focus.

5) Studentship. We are progressive because we are always learning and growing, never satisfied that we have all the answers. We are humble truth seekers and transparent truth speakers, no bullshit, no fluff. We own our flaws and strive for growth in all areas.

6) Mindfulness. Bringing both perspective and awareness to everything we do. At all times we endeavor to respond from our highest place, where our hearts and our minds connect.

7) Harmony. Within our self, with each other, with the local Balinese community, with the environment, with the planet, we work towards sustainable, harmonic relationships in every way.

8) Gratitude. We recognize the incredible privilege that it is to be here – to have these bodies, to have these lives, these finances, the gift of yoga, all of our teachers and the opportunity to serve and make a difference in the world. Every moment we are giving thanks for these opportunities and gifts.

9) Universal Trust. We surrender. We trust that we are here for a purpose and that we are guided along the way. We trust in our own and each other’s capacities and when things get challenging, our trust in the universe will keep us positive, calm, grateful and in harmony with ourselves and all those around us.

These principles will be our measurements. They represent both our support beams and our guiding lights as we bring forth our vision into the world, keeping it safe as it blooms open towards fruition.

There is nothing new here, as Carl says, “No point reinventing the wheel,” because after all, there is only one system to govern everything, our business lives, our personal lives, our spiritual lives, everything. This is why you can affect your kidneys by pressing parts of your foot, or points on the lobes of your ears. Everything that exists in one place, must as a byproduct of reality, also exists and be accessible in all other places. Like a child’s ‘color by numbers’ activity book, all we have to do is learn the codes, grab the markers and create our own picture of beauty, because the reality is, life was always meant to be that way.


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Hanuman: The Promises We Keep

by Octavio Salvado.

We are as good as the promises we make. We are as great as the promises we keep. Hanuman is many things, yet above all else he is our own deeply committed self, reflected back to us, mythically.

We are losing the capacity to get mythic with our minds and as a result, the opportunity to embrace greater depth and freedom in our practices and lives. Myth is not simply about entertainment, or even about culture, the role of Myth is more important than that. It is a powerful tool of self-study, designed to engage our hearts and minds simultaneously and help us to see ourselves more honestly, with more acceptance and most of all, as more intimately connected to the fragile beauty of the collective human experience than perhaps we once thought.

In India there are over 300 million Deities, each with their own story, own triggers, tendencies, vulnerabilities, joys and strengths. From the perspective of mythic consciousness, every single one of these faces reflects back to us something about ourself. Every word that passes their lips, a code language whispered to our psyche, reminding us of how utterly marvelous, complex and multidimensional we are.

Of them all, Hanuman is the quintessential mythic being and for the Yogi, by far the most interesting and important. For his journey, straight through the center of the Epic adventure, The Ramayana is our own journey deep into the heart of practice. More loyal, devoted, courageous, capable, playful and humble than any other character in the story, Hanuman invites us to show up in every single moment, both on and off the mat, ready for anything, ready to embrace life and engage wholeheartedly with whatever situation is being presented. As Hanuman, we are ready to stand up for what we hold dear to our hearts and fight to overcome what blocks the path that bridges our personal and spiritual lives together.

Hanuman is the Yogi, and yoga quite simply, is that bridge between worlds. Approached with unwavering commitment, the theatre of practice offers us very similar opportunities and struggles as the theatre of life. The magnitude is different, as are the consequences, yet when we step to the mat with utter devotion to the task at hand, the qualities required to skillfully navigate it are the same – courage and humility in equal proportions, because facing fear and overcoming it as well as facing our limitations and accepting them are an inbuilt, unavoidable part of the path. No way to side step it. Every class, every pose, every breath is a new adventure.

Sita, Rama, Hanuman, even the ten-headed demon, Ravana are all part of that inner adventure told as myth, outwards. When Rama ‘loses’ Sita in the forest, it is really ‘us’ losing our perspective, disconnecting from our inner self somewhere deep in the forest of life. The word ‘Sita’ means ‘to furrow’, meaning she is from the Earth. She arises from the Earth and at the end of the story, to the Earth she returns, unchanged. Sita is that part of us that does not change, the eternal Self, the Atman. Rama, our worldly self has lost her to the forest. Bills to pay, appointments to keep, we lose touch we what’s truly important. And so Rama, the Jivan – the embodied self has arrived at a critical juncture: The promise to ourselves we must make. The promise we must keep.

This is Yoga, a promise to our self. So when Rama meets Hanuman in the forest, symbolically this is the moment we stand up and firm ourselves in the decision to do the work that needs to be done. The story depicts this moment so beautifully. Rama overhears Hanuman making a vow, a promise to himself, “I WILL find Sita”. Such clarity. Such passion and conviction! Nothing else matters to Hanuman in that moment, and it is here, right here, if we look at the story with mythic eyes, that we see and embrace the opportunity to reclaim our lives. “THIS is who I am!! And THIS is what I will do!!” Hanuman is the recognition that we are all supremely capable and furthermore, that the entire world is our yoga mat, our lives lived, our spiritual practice.

Having overheard Hanuman, Rama goes to him, embraces him and hands him a golden ring, a metaphor for our worldliness making an offering, a commitment to our spiritual aspect. A promise made, and in the case of the Ramayana, a promise kept. Hanuman summons his power, overcomes his fears, his demons, finds Sita, does what needs to be done, yet does it all completely absent of pride, filled only with humility and devotion. This is what makes Hanuman impeccable, his ability to do great things and simultaneously remain completely ordinary. Hanuman shows us that the deeper we go into yoga, the more ordinary we must become. As ordinary as a monkey, as relatable as the most common man and avoid at all costs, getting ‘wrapped up’ in the story, wrapped up in the robes or changing our name to Swami.

Hanuman invites us to do exactly the opposite: get ordinary, simplify, get real, stay humble and when its time to, leap with everything that God gave us. When life calls on us to stand up for what we believe, then we must rise up against all odds, tear open our chest and let the light of courage and humility explode out, merge into one and consume everything we do. This is Hanuman.

His story is a tale of remembrance, a wake-up call to our fearless heart and an invitation to get ordinary, yet simultaneously, become more than we ever imagined.


SPECIAL THANKS to Noah Maze for all of his epically themed Hanuman practices and insights. JAI HANUMAN!!

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Never Not Broken

by Octavio Salvado.

Peering out from amid the 333 million divine and demonic faces of Mythic India, there is one whose reflection illuminates the path of yoga as ‘skill in action’ more thoroughly and wholeheartedly than the rest – Akhilandeshvari, the Goddess Never Not broken.

Her invitation is simple: Recognize that there are no full stops in life, or in yoga and that the long road of truth snakes on eternally. Meaning that we are always gifted the opportunity to refine ourselves and our authenticity and redefine our relationship to whatever experience life is presenting us with.

Sure, we do our best to impose completion on our endeavors. We make certificates of proficiency, of marriage and ownership and grant titles of authority to solidify a sense of finality but in the end, all becomes dust. The papers will burn or degrade and the particles that once seemed so firm will fall away only to be reconfigured and reborn as some new expression of this ever changing, never not broken Universe. Like bread, marriage must be remade each morning. Like a heartbeat, every asana must pulse with aliveness, constantly being broken apart and rebuilt with every new breath.

In this way the theatre of Life mirrors the arena of Practice. Within both contextual fields we are being called to step up and recognize that we are never not in the pose, never outside of a moment that deserves our deepest commitment to remain present. Life is falling apart? So what? Stay present. Can’t do the pose? So what? Stay present, do what you can do and do it with your whole heart. THAT is the essence yoga, the shape is just the environment, the ‘Dharmekshetra’, the field of Dharma where we are offered the privilege to come to know the inner turnings of our mind and through the alchemical blend of our own dedication and insight, potentially disrupt our habitual tendencies that cause us to show up in ways that do no justice to the truth of who we are and what we are capable of.

That is why the great master, Patanjali asserts at the very outset of his timeless Yoga Sutras, ‘Atha yoga nusasanam’ – The practice of yoga begins NOW! And NOW! And NOW! Because the practice never ends and despite what the self-help books say, Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes practice. The call to presence in other words, is our collective human dharma and there is nothing else. No big secrets, no hidden meanings. The answer is there in plain site of our radiant inner eye. Be present, be ready and know that our work is to smooth out all transitions both on and off the mat through the steady cultivation of moment-to-moment awareness until our destiny pulls us deep into the heart of its heart. Presence is where purpose is born. The in between spaces is where God lives. Bibles and Bhagavad Gitas, burn them all if they cause us to fixate on something singular, robbing us of the sweetness of extracting God from every single circumstance.

The truth is, I can no longer with any real conviction separate Life and Yoga. The gap has thinned and they now bleed into each other like streams of red and blue dye, staining the world permanently purple. This same stain afflicts the best students, not the one’s with the prettiest poses or the most online followers, but the ones whose eyes burn bright, blazing purple and whose breath echoes through class like a mantric breeze, seamless and humming. The best students are the one’s that show up, literally and figuratively. Even when they fall down, they show up. Even when their edge is met, especially when their edge is met and their triggers are firing, they show up. This is true Adikhara, true studentship.

Such a beautiful word, Adikhara, one that yields the ripest fruit once the hard shell has been pierced with an etymological blade. ‘Adi’ means ‘with respect to’ and ‘Khara’ comes from the root word ‘Kha’, which quite simply means ‘axel hole’. It is the space in the center of the wheel that allows things to turn. When things are turning smoothly it is called ‘su-kha’ and when the turnings are difficult, ‘du-kha’. So the literal translation of Adikhara is ‘with respect to the space between things’ or ‘with respect to the gap in the middle’.

When we pay attention to the gaps and the spaces between things, to all of those little details of our ordinary, everyday lives, we slip into the current, we become a student of Life and the yoga becomes whatever moment we find ourselves immersed in. When we get present and begin noticing all of the gorgeous eccentricities and nuances of our partner’s personality, or the way golden sunlight sometimes hits cloud tips after rain, or the exact way we place our toes when we step again and again to the top of the mat, then there is ‘Sukha’ and life turns with ease, with grace, with God. We have become Akhilandeshvari, the eternal adjuster, never complacent, never finished, forever refining our relationship to the moment by breaking down what we think we know and stepping vulnerable, raw, ready and willing into every new field of Now.

Because that is all there ever is, right now.

So my friends, spread and stretch your toes, firm your feet on the floor, deepen your breath…. and let the practice begin.

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For the Love of the Practice

by Octavio Salvado.

Practice is like gravity, it not only draws us closer to our center, it also arranges life magnetically so that the exact experiences we need in order to fulfill our spiritual reasons for being here, our Dharma, are drawn towards us.

There are ancient ways, secret ways largely lost to the world that use mathematics, geometry, times and dates to configure and systematically design a spiritual practice that personally aligns us to our Dharma, because behind the sheath of physicality exists a code, an entire world of frequencies dancing into being through their geometric and harmonic relationships. In other words, life can be calculated, because it is partly mathematical in nature. As a result, spiritual practices can be carefully cultured and tailor made so that the practitioner has the opportunity to ride these energetic currents and timelines into the spiritual depths of life typically not touched. However life is also poetic and unknowable, so there is more than one onramp to the Dharma Marga, our Life Path – the spiritual super highway connecting our mind, heart and action.

When I first felt the undeniable compulsion to teach yoga, and I knew that this was the path I would follow, alongside that knowing also came a sense of deep helplessness, because I had absolutely no idea where to begin or what to do. So I spoke to my teacher about it. His clear, wise words changed the course of my life. He said “Practice. Just practice.”

He told me not to worry about that whole ‘teaching’ story and just concentrate on my own practice. That in dedicating myself wholeheartedly, the right students and experiences would naturally be drawn towards me in just the right moment. He told me to become a gravitational force through my own self-efforts and then be patient, enjoy the space and use the time to cultivate a deep intimacy with my practices and plough the soil of my own heart to recover its deepest aspirations.

Then when I asked him ‘what’ I should practice he simply said, “Follow your joy”.

Mathematics and poetry. One part strategy, the other, ecstatic spontaneity. It’s been almost ten years since that conversation yet its still a powerful guiding force in my life. Practice, Practice and all is coming. Potent words from the late, great master, Pattabhi Jois. What practice? Simple. The one that shines the heart and sharpens the mind, the one that opens us up to the poetry and simultaneously helps us see the symmetry, finally gifting us the remembrance that these two fields of reference are the wings of the one bird. Our spiritual practices are the wings of our soul, necessary appendages for the flight of freedom that we are all destined to take. The teachers who guide us and share their wisdom, tools and spiritual luster are like that Mother bird, who gently pushes the shaky fledgling from the branch, tumbling at first, then managing, then gliding…. then soaring.

I thank God for my Teachers everyday. I thank God for my Practice everyday. And I thank myself everyday too, for showing up and doing the work, because dedicating time, energy and effort to Spiritual Practice, in whatever shape or form it takes is not easy. It takes an abundance of courage and humility in equal proportions because within that context of commitment we will confront our edges, daily. Physical edges, mental, emotional, social and spiritual edges, and those can be gritty moments.

That grit is by design. Its like Anna Forrest says, “Never waste a good trigger.” because in those moments we get to see ‘how we deal’, we get to meet our many faces and see our fascinating escape strategies. And that is very interesting. Yet what’s also interesting is seeing how the triggers lose their charge over time, slowly the mind stops jumping around like a monkey. That is why Patanjali in his 12th Sutra suggests that stilling the fluctuations of the mind is a twofold process: Practice plus the slow, steady cultivation of non-reactivity. No way to avoid it. It’s going to get wild in there! The mind will panic and try to hold fast inside secure walls of what is known and comfortable. However, settling for the safety of the shallows is not the way of the Yogi. The Yogi is the wild one. The Yogini is the one whose heart fire burns bright like the Sun. Sadhana or Spiritual practice, is for the one who is ready to become the crash test dummy of their own radical, brilliant life.

Be ready. It’s a long, often heartbreaking road. Yet what we need to remember is that we are built for this, engineered for awakening, designed to have experiences that break our heart, not in two, but wide open. Sometimes its the practice itself that opens us up, sometimes its life in her graciousness and ferocity and the practice is there to help us reassemble the pieces and continue forward through the wounding without losing hope, more raw, more vulnerable and expanded, ultimately more grateful for the preciousness of this human existence.

Either way, removing ourselves from the stream of daily life and dedicating sacred time to connect to our center and to the joy of our heart is a direct route to stepping beyond everyday consciousness and transforming old, worn out ways of being into tendencies that align us to our highest potential. Then, when we begin pulsing at our personal dharmic frequency, emitting a palpable, magnetic hum, we touch the full potential of spiritual practice: Sadhana as Seva, PRACTICE as SERVICE. Our edges blur, our skin becomes permeable and music spills out, healing vibrations ripple into our family life, the pulse slips into the community and triggers a cascade of events beyond our knowing and the world mysteriously gets brighter.

This is the power of the practice.

What are you waiting for?

Octavio's Articles

Featured Practice – Ubaya Hridaya Mudra

by Octavio Salvado.

This mudra is designed to evoke a deep sense of courage and at the same time, wash the nervous system with humility. In this way, the practitioner can move forward embodying pure equanimity and be ready to engage with any given moment with absolute presence, patience and when needed, passion.

‘Ubaya’ translates to fearless and ‘Hridaya’ is a reference to the deep spiritual core of our heart. It is not the physical heart that pumps blood through the body but rather the very source of our being, that untouchable essence that remains undisturbed by the fluctuations of our mind and all external factors. That is why at the beginning of practice it is helpful to engage this mudra and accompany it with deep, balanced breathing – Savitri Pranayama for example (Inhale 8, hold in 4, Exhale 8, Hold out 4) for 3 to 5 minutes, to prepare for the challenges and confrontations, internal and external we face throughout practice.

Over time, this ‘willingness’ to show up and engage wholeheartedly ripples outwards into everything we do. The practice on the mat becomes ‘the foundation’ for what we do off the mat. Yoga quite literally is the practice arena for the main event of LIFE and Ubaya Hridaya Mudra is a tool we can utilise to prepare us for the full spectrum of experience that we will undoubtedly encounter.


“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you: as Albert Mondego, the Man! (The Yogi!)”


From Anjali Mudra (prayer hands), separate your palms and cross your right wrist over the top of your left, then touch the backs of your hands together. Hook the pads of your index fingers together so that your right index finger is ‘closest’ to your body. Do the same ‘hooking’ with your middle fingers and pinkie fingers, leaving the thumbs and ring fingers free.

Join your thumbs and ring fingers of both of your hands together and then lightly draw the base of your right thumb knuckle to your sternum. Note: Often this mudra will cause a ‘rolling forward’ of the left shoulder. Be mindful of this and counter it by lifting your left shoulder up, moving it back and then settling your left shoulder blade down your back. If sitting for an extended time, keep this adjustment in mind and re-apply it as required.

Keep your heart lifted, spine long and simultaneously fill and refill your kidney area with presence and breath.

Happy Practicing.