Faith is a concept that usually is deeply rooted in religion.  Sometimes I think it is a bit misunderstood out of fear.  When we talk about faith in a religious sense it usually comes as blind faith for a god that if we don’t believe in it we will come to great harm and possibly worse.  Personally I don’t think that if god exists then he/she/it would not be so low as to hurt someone for not believing.  To me that seems like a lowly human trait.  Especially when no real proof of knowing that god exists is available.  It’s not like God comes around every hundred years or so to check on us.  That might be nice because it would solve all problems of religion but it doesn’t happen.

Personally I believe that something way more intelligent and powerful than us created us and our universe and I give thanks to that.  What I don’t think is that they (god) meddles in our affairs and is always on call to answer our prayers like an errand boy.  If god exists and did create us I imagine is like a father to his children and wants the best for them and all but using his will on us does have his own will.  Although I may not always understand the plan for humanity, I do look at nature and see how hard and violent it can be.  We were given free will to do as we see fit for ourselves.  Unfortunately most people choose ill will over goodwill, which keeps us from exiting the animal kingdom into becoming a civilized and enlightened race.

Whether given to us or not by a god we have abilities that still are not cultivated enough in our society.  Jesus and the many masters of yoga, Buddhism and Taoism understand these abilities.  The ability to cultivate ourselves to reach a place where we can experience consciousness at its root, by cultivating our minds.

Our minds are very powerful and what we think usually manifests in our bodies and in our lives.  This is incredibly important to understand!  If you are happy then life seems to be magical and things work out.  When we are angry it only seems to create more situations that keep us angry.  Not that we can’t feel these emotions and they are bad.  It is when we hold on to them and let them run our minds and lives, that becomes detrimental to our progress.

What does this have to do with faith?  Here is a question for you.  If you were an employer who would you hire, the person who is fearful and seems to have anxiety or the person that has confidence in themselves and that everything is great?  Faith is the mindset of having confidence in one’s self and in the fact that everything is going to be OK because you believe in yourself and what you are doing in life.  This is the mindset of success!  And if anything goes wrong then it may be you need a change or learn something.  Because is truly about moving towards that root of consciousness and achieving the highest state of your humanness.

This is also why the world sucks, because when you have faith in what you do you succeed and too many bad people have power and faith in what they are doing even though they are ruining humanity.

Faith isn’t easy and sometimes mine waivers but I still try to hold on strong because I believe in what I am doing even though everything in the world might seem like it is against me.  Worry fear anger won’t help you be happy.  I have had many breakthroughs with faith.  It was something I learned from a great man.

I had put stock in hope many times over and been devastated when it never came to fruition.  Then I finally gave up hope and took on faith that all will be fine.  This was all in regards to finding work and the next day I got a call for an interview and got a job.

Another instance is when I had returned to New York after many years and went on a whim and only had so much money.  After a few months of trying to find work I was freaking out and running out of money.  After a huge blow out I finally had a breakthrough and soon found a job.

Then next year I did the same thing but this time I used my money however and whenever and didn’t worry about a job and just when my money was about to run out, I found a great job.

As I look at my life I have always been a worrier and struggled but I always managed to have what I need.  This doesn’t mean you can worry and things will still be ok.  It means that you shouldn’t worry, be patient and everything will happen when it is supposed to.

Just to be clear faith is a lot harder when you are broke, struggling to survive and/or putting your life on the line for your dreams or what you want in life.  This is when you are truly tested.  Not when you have a great career, money and all you want when you can have it.  But even then people seem to worry and freak out.

We all want to be in control of our lives and sometimes we try to force ot and when it is not happening we freak out.  Well here is all you need to take control of your life.  Your mind is very powerful, be confident, patient and have faith and what you want will come.  It might not be right away, something bad might happen because you are in the wrong place, just keep faith and stay positive and you shall prevail and be the master of your destiny.

Strangely, I typed in the word relief and this was one of the pictures that came up.  The caption for it was anxiety relief.  It also has quite a resemblance to someone thanking the universe for something.

The Mind and its Relationship to Chi/Prana, the body and Life

When it comes to the mind almost anything is possible.  Our minds are more powerful than we have yet to realize or remember.  Yoga and other arts such as Qigong and Tai Chi has taught this for thousands of years.  Yet somehow the concepts of chi and prana have faded into a mysterious force of which a general understanding is lacking.  Through these arts we know of their existence and when we practice these arts these energies are present and sometimes, we feel sensations of the energy.  When coordinating movement with the breath and a relaxed state of mind, energy is circulated and cultivated.  The only thing missing is the awareness of it.

Why be aware of it if it is cultivated naturally and what does this have to do with the mind?  As we know the mind has a great effect on the body.  On one level stress can be very detrimental, on another we can see how attitudes and mindset can be expressed through posture and facial expressions.  To this effect we can determine that if we can hurt the body with thoughts then we can heal it with thoughts.  In turn these thoughts when expressed through action can affect our lives through the interactions with others and influencing our decisions.

This is why it is important to be aware of prana/chi, because they are linked to the mind which affects the body and your life.  Chi/prana are also made of the same thing that mind is (spiritual energy) and are extensions of the mind.  Also, to be noted is that mind is separate from the observer; you.  Through your consciousness, mind is transformed into thoughts, imagination, emotions and actions, like light through movie film.  So, it is not only important to be aware of chi/prana for practice but also to be aware of it because you are literally using it all the time.  This means that what you think is what you practice. It is said that mind moves chi and chi moves the body. Chi is like an interface between mind and body.

So now what?  Now you learn what chi feels like and how to cultivate and use it properly in your practice.  The first step is to become aware of it.  Put your hand up in front of you, take a few deep breathes and relax yourself and your hand.  Then feel the palm of your hand, without your other hand and without looking at it.  You should feel a slight tingling sensation.  Now move your awareness to the inside of each finger, then to the back of each finger, then to the back of the hand.  Et voila! That is chi/prana.  In Tai Chi it is said that chi goes where the mind goes.  Now move that awareness up your arm to your elbow, make sure to feel the awareness along your arm.  The next step would be to move that awareness around your whole body and take note of what you feel.

If you don’t feel it right away, you might need to concentrate a little more. Really work to feel the area being focused on. Once you connect you will know. This is what I called connected awareness. There is also what I call “passive awareness.” This is when you move your attention to a place on the body and of course know it is there without any real effort. Sometimes the feeling of your body or the awareness of it seems to be just above your physical body. Once a person can concentrate to the point where they feel a real physical sensation of the area (skin and/or muscles), a connection is felt. Sometimes this connection is accompanied by twitching, release, heat, cold, or any number of chi sensations.

The importance of this, is that this is where mind and body meet. At this point the mind-body connection can be cultivated to the ability of moving and manipulating the body with a mere thought. Put your mind to a muscle and get it to relax or contract. Coordinate and strengthen that and learn to move in that way, and you can easily master anything you want to. All you need is practice.

There are many techniques for moving, cultivating and using chi.  The next step would be to practice increasing your awareness to the core of your body, feel your muscles then try to feel your bones.  Breathing and relaxation are extremely important with regards to feeling and moving chi/prana. Tension blocks the feeling of chi and sometimes blocks chi all together. The breath moves and circulates chi like a pump.

Now that you know the power of the mind or more like a piece of it. Really, the stronger the mind, the stronger the chi. The mind, humans, have great potential for power. I don’t have to go into great detail about how the mind or state of one’s mind can affect their body and their life. You just have to know that it all starts with you and your mind. If you focus on positive thoughts positive things with happen. And take it from me, fear and anxiety only make those fear a reality. It is no easy task, especially in the face of great adversity. But this is where a strength of spirit is cultivated.

If a person has trouble focusing on other things or the emotions are too strong, there are ways to combat this. Strengthening the body, strengthens the mind. Meditation, especially concentrated meditation. Focusing on a single thought, image or mantra is great. Focusing on relaxation, releasing tension and building body awareness that becomes chi awareness, I think is awesome. On the emotional side, doing things that make you happy will help. I find that a mantra helps, especially when negative thoughts arise, use the mantra as something positive and transformative to focus. It works, I swear by it.

The human mind has incredible potential and is still not as understood as we might think it should be in this modern age. But now with this little bit of information, it can be explored and cultivated directly.


Tension can come in many forms and not result in pain.  It can also have many causes; stress, an over active mind, a state of mind or misalignment of the body.  The result being that the muscles are contracting constantly or unnecessarily.  For example, people’s shoulders being lifted because they are constantly in a state of fear or worry or stress.  When it comes to misalignment it means that you have been using specific muscles to support the body instead of all of them together.  This can create pain in other parts of the body or just impede range of motion.

There are a few approaches to fixing this type of tension.  There is massage, practicing relaxation, stretching (yoga) and finding the cause of the stress.  They key to all of these is letting go.  If you are hanging by your hands and want to get down you must let go of your grip.  If you have been hanging on for a long time then it might take a bit of work.  Remember your three foundations of relaxation, breathing and form/posture.  For now breathing and relaxation are your key ingredients to alleviating tension.

When approaching tension or a practice session start with connecting to the breath.  Take 5 deep and slow breaths and relax with each one.  Relaxing more and more with each exhale.  Holding the exhale without using any muscles really helps to relax.  Then start with massage, if you can move chi then use it to connect.   If not then start with a gentle massage and increase pressure of needed.  Depending on the nature and severity of the tension soreness might result.  In this case it is good to wait until the soreness is gone and come back to it then.  You may need to repeat a few times until the soreness stops.  This can also be said for stretching tight muscles.

Once the soreness no longer results from massage then continue massage but then add a stretch.  Also remember to start with breathing and relaxation and continue it through your massage and stretch.  When relaxing, use your breath and focus on the tension and really try to feel it and let it go. You can even tell it to relax and let go.  This is also to be practiced in your stretch.  Once it starts to let go the next time will be easier and soon it will start to lengthen and remain relaxed.

During the time you are not working on your tension, throughout your day continually bring awareness to your body and your tension and breathe, relax and find your posture.  If you find your arms are lifted, then put them down.  This is something to always be aware of.   Also you must also try to find the source of the tension.  When working on it you may feel particular emotions associated with them, just breathe, experience, release and let go.  If it is something in your life then ty to find a way to create that happiness you desire.

On the other side, emotions like fear, anger, worry and anxiety are almost overwhelming.  In my experience when dealing with these emotions you must choose to stay positive as hard as it may be.  If these emotions and thoughts associated with them dominate your mind then this can become extremely detrimental.  Just think of the chemical and hormonal repercussions of having the chemical components to those emotions constantly streaming through your body.  If you have trouble with thoughts then a mantra can work wonders.  Let that dominate your mind and be your focus.  On the physical side positive action works very well; either do good things or exercise.

On the lighter side, if tension is not painful and is just impeding your range of motion, just continue to practice relaxation, breathe, massage and stretch.  When in a stretch or just practicing a yoga pose and muscles are contracting when they shouldn’t, you have to really use your mind to relax them and contract the muscles that should be used in that particular stretch or pose.  Using the technique of breathing chi through the limbs and condensing breathing are very helpful techniques as well.  Breathing the limbs is straight forward but when using condensing breathing I find it effective when focusing on the tension; as in breathing the muscle.  Inhale, condense muscles, exhale expand.  I find this to be very effective.  Also a light touch can help wonders as well when having trouble getting the mind into that area.  And massage before stretch is extremely helpful.

Importance of Rest

When it comes to progress rest is just important as practice.  Even I when I really get into my practice can overdo it.  That is when the practice starts to impede progress.  When you first start training I would say that rest is most important because your body is weaker and more vulnerable to injury.  If you become sore, just wait until your body heals and practice some meditation or chi exercises.

Personally I tend to push the limits of my body and after a session I can feel worse, tighter, less flexible and the parts I worked on also feel tight and sore.  I find that once I wait a couple of days the work I did has a chance to set in and once I’m healed I realize that I am stronger, more flexible and made great progress.  You see this is why we need rest.

When you have been practicing for longer the body may not need as long to recover.  Also like I said you can switch up your work out to concentrate on certain parts of the body while others rest.  So be patient, practice hard and let your body rest and recover and come back stronger.



Stillness is a hugely import concept in practicing yoga, meditation and relaxation.  By stilling the mind we can still the body and vice versus.  When practicing any of these it may be hard for someone to reach still at first.  Also it may be hard for someone to reach stillness if they haven’t experienced it.  Truly it is not that hard to reach, holding it is a bit tougher.  Stillness is that point at which you feel relaxed, comfortable and have no craving to do or move.  You are just in the moment.  You don’t even have to be completely relaxed to feel stillness.

Once you can reach a point of stillness in your meditation you can sit for longer and focus without distraction.  When practicing relaxation you can easily work towards deeper states of relaxation and relieving tension.  In yoga it will help you to find that comfortability in your poses.  Practicing stillness will also help with anxiety and the need to feed or do.  You will find that you need other things less to help you relax, like drugs, alcohol or cigarettes.

To get to a place of stillness is easy.  When sitting or lying down take 3 full deep breaths and on each exhale let go and relax into it, letting the breath fall out and holding the exhale without using any muscles.  Then breathe naturally and with each exhale try to relax a little more and holding the exhale for a few seconds.  You should feel a sinking feeling, as if you are melting.  You will feel a sense of comfort and won’t want to move.  This is stillness!

Being still is tough, sitting or lying down especially for long periods it may be a bit exhausting at first.  It is tougher when standing as well.   Just try to hold on to that even when you start to move.  This will help you understand the stillness in movement that is talked about in Tai Chi.  There is also another type of stillness in movement associated with Tai Chi or movement in general.  Imagine, your body is still except for one arm moving.  Or the opposite, the arm is still and the body moves. That is stillness in movement.

Once you can find the stillness hold it as long as you can.  If you find yourself restless, practice your breathing and come to stillness.  This is a practice that can open you up to a whole new level of relaxed while living.  Your body may be relaxed but you aren’t truly relaxed or comfortable until you find the stillness.  As a bartender or sushi chef I find this is extremely helpful.  When it gets busy and I have to move a super speeds and multitask at a quantum level I find that when I can find that stillness and relax into the movements I don’t mess up, tense up or fumble with objects which can impede my ability to perform admirably.  Just remember to breathe, stay relaxed, find the stillness and hold that form/posture if you can.

Breathing the Limbs and its Uses

Breathing the limbs, a technique I discussed in my book Living Yoga.  It is a good way to improve chi circulation in the body, clear blockages, relax and align the limbs.  There are 3 ways you can practice this, the third is related to condensing breathing and is a good way to start practicing that technique.

First, as you inhale you visualize chi coming into the body through the arm, leg or head and to the nearest center (lower center or heart center) and when exhaling visualize the chi moving out of the body.  Note, with all of these it is important to really feel the chi moving through the body.  This is going to help you build chi and body awareness.

Second, as you inhale visualize the chi coming in through the top of the head from the universe to the center closest to the limb and then exhaling and visualizing the chi moving out of the arm or leg.  I find this technique is a little more effective than the first and very useful while in yoga poses for helping to relax muscles, align the body and chi strengthening (strengthening chi and body by using chi as strength).

Third, with this technique you are not moving chi in and out of the body.  If you are familiar with condensing breathing it is like that.  When you inhale you feel and visualize the limb condensing and when you exhale it expands.  Condensing breathing uses this specifically on the bones because chi moves along the marrow.  This may be hard at first, to feel your bones, this is why I recommend you just breathe each section of your limbs first.  This is helping you to increase awareness of your body and the feeling of chi deeper into your body until you can start to feel your bones.  Also if you want to practice condensing breathing you can physically touch your bones to help bring the mind to the bones through sensation.  This technique is great for as I said building awareness but also relaxing tension and it can be used for relaxing the hips and pelvis, shoulders and any oart of the torso and the head.



Breakthroughs come in many forms, because healing also comes in many forms.  When you have a break through you will know; you will feel a difference in your body and your life.  I have had breakthroughs where I finally am able to let go of something holding me back and suddenly I lose weight or my body is looser.  And that was from a mental or emotional breakthrough.

As you can see, mental and emotional breakthroughs can manifest physically.  This is because the mind is linked to the body and the body is an expression of the mind.  We hold a lot of what is in our mind in our bodies.

We can also have breakthroughs from physical practice that affect us on all those levels.  A physical breakthrough is when you finally get that muscle to give and let go and you can stretch it.  You may find that the work you have been doing is really starting to show in the alignment of your body.  Progress is very exciting!  Sometimes you come to a place and you are using massage or yoga and you release tension and you feel it release and you might experience pent up emotions or trauma.  This is great, just be open, experience and don’t hold on to those feelings, let them go.  Then you will feel a great relief and might even come to a great epiphany about yourself and healing.

Using a mantra to overcome anxiety was a big breakthrough for me.  Even though I understand a lot about healing and yoga, it is in my nature to worry, be emotional and moody.  But there comes a time when you have had enough and can see how these negative emotions and thoughts are ruining your progress in life.  This is the time I and possibly you make a stand, I used a mantra to focus on something positive and create positive action and it worked.  I have had anxiety since but not on the level that I was experiencing.  What I learned from that was that I need to stay positive no matter what and if something bad happens then it might be for the better.  But in the meantime my fear and anxiety was manifesting my fears and it had to stop.

So just remember breakthroughs come in many forms and have great effects.  Just keep practicing and moving forward to bettering yourself and doing what it takes to create happiness for yourself.  It’s all about how bad you want it.

Asana Yoga, Roots, Reasons; Ancient and Modern

Yoga, if we go back to the sutras of Patanjali, he mainly talks about meditation.  Asana (pose or posture) is spoken of but only in relation to sitting.  The main point of yoga as we may all know by its translation as “union,” is to unify one’s self to God or Brahman or spirit through meditation; but mainly concentration meditation.  This is also known as Raja Yoga, the yoga of mind development.  So where does the asana come in?  You see, the mind is very tricky and if we try to control it too fast then we may have detrimental side effects.  Also as a new aspirant of yoga they may not be able to sit for the long hours of meditation required.  Which in the sutras of Patanjali he talks about meditating until one reaches Samadhi and then holding that Samadhi for 5 hours.

Just for your knowledge, meditation is when you can hold a single thought form without wavering, Samadhi is when observer and observed become one.  So that which you are observing you become, there is no more you.  Now if we can do this with say, something like Brahman then we can “unify” ourselves with it.  Also once we can harness the power of the mind there is so much more we can do.  But for now we are talking about the asana.

Asanas, just imagine you are new to yoga and you have a weak and stiff body that is off center, out of alignment and a weak mind that never stops thinking or is full of worry.  How are you going to sit for any time without pain?  But most importantly, if you do awaken the latent energy in the body, “kundalini” when your body is not ready for it, this can be detrimental.  Think of it like chi flow, if there are blockages then pain or illness results.  Kundalini, when activated is much stronger so we need to be prepared.  So what do we do then?  We do yoga!  We stretch and strengthen the body into perfect alignment so that we can endure long hours of meditation and have an unhindered flow of energy through the body.  But just this alone is great for having a healthy body.

In the Hatha Pradapika it talks about asana yoga as being the first half of the journey, along with cleansing the body and the mind.  The cleansing will help expedite the opening of the body.  Through asana yoga we are able to not only increase flexibility and strengthen the body into proper alignment, we are strengthening the mind as well.  We don’t just do a stretch or pose; we are focusing on our breath, alignment, our bodies, letting go of tension, etc.  This in itself is a meditation.

Seriously though, who today has the time for long hours of meditation or enlightenment.  All we may get is a couple hours a day for exercise.  So why not make the best of it.  Yoga is an all encompassing art form and what we really need to continue to live strong and healthy is to be flexible, well aligned, connected with the breath and have a sharp, focused mind.  And to think, this is only the beginning of what is possible with yoga.