balance

istockphotoyogastockphoto

Teaching Yoga as an Outlet for Creativity

Teaching with Passion

Over the past few months I have fallen into a new depth of relationship with teaching yoga. It is kind of parallel to my production of music in that I feel that my ability to express myself becomes more and more robust. All of the mediums I have at my disposal, including this website, are going to help me to connect in the world in a way that is so cool! I really enjoy being able to share all this stuff.

I’ve settled into 8 classes a week as a slight downgrade from the 9 I was teaching a couple months ago. A pace that I am glad to slow into because I need to continue my own yoga practice! It is a continual endeavor and honestly, I still like practicing my own yoga more than teaching. But that gaps gets smaller and smaller with time. I love the way that people take their time at the end of my class and the things that people say to me are so incredible sometimes. One of my students was telling my that he’s had tons of firsts in my class and that makes me stoked! It’s easy to get in your head about yoga and I try to involve the inner dialogue as little as possible. Feel that shit yo.

Evolution within communities

Anyways, I can’t believe how East Wind continues to create waves in the community and there are tons of people starting to sign up for classes and you can feel the community growing. The newer teachers are a big part of that and I’m super excited to teach alongside them. Obviously Scott, Tess, and Julie  hold down the fort, but its really nice to have some additional support to truly believe in and practice with. Ben and I have been friends for a while and I’m really supportive of him teaching yoga because the dude is a natural guru. Same with Francesca (also new to EW), I’m actually a little bit jealous about how well she connects with her squad. Anyways, both of them are going to be great teachers for me, once I get back into practicing in a studio. I just don’t want to practice anything but different ways to get into handstands right now, for some reason. Obviously that means that normal studio yoga classes aren’t quite “doin’ it” for me. It’s just me being an introvert.

Moving onto new things

Oh yeah, and Buck opened a new studio! Buck has always been a great teacher to me and I’m super excited to see how he evolves while doing his own thing. MomentOM is the name lol. I actually think that exact name was already taken by a studio in Pennsylvania ha. But shit man, he had like 60 people in that room in his Instagram post doing bicycles, it was nuts!!

Right now, I just want to be in my cave of yoga. practicing by myself, observing how the cogs of my mind reel and churn and do what they do. I need to spend the time alone, simply to post-process the amount of stuff that I am dealing with while creating all of this art. I want to stay as balanced as possible for this teaching yoga thing. Also, all that EDM music! Album on the way! (It might be called Galactic, or something like that..)

Also also, I am working on the free downloads of yoga classes. Hang in there. I might buy some software tonight to help, I want it to be working tomorrow.

Also also also, Yoga Tuesday nights at East Wind in Roseville are about to be off the chain! I’ve really tuned in my playlists lately #DJ

Well, of too spend my day off making music, first I’m gona run with a homie. Here’s to livin’ the dream!! <3

 

mountains_w_path

Modena & Verona, Italy | Zurich, Switzerland | Paris, France

The past few days have been a blur of beauty, incredible meals, unforgettable architecture, and time to share with my sisters and mom. I think I will look back on these last few weeks fondly for a long time in the future; so much has happened in such a short time.

Two days ago, we arrived in Modena, Italy with the specific purpose of eating lunch at Osteria Francescana, recently named the second best restaurant in the world with 3 Michelin stars. I will write a whole blog about it later, when I have my blog’s storage situation figured out, but it was a 12 course meal paired with wines and quite literally the coolest and most luxurious experience of my life; quite a contrast to Dhaka, Bangladesh. We moved on to Verona for the night, had a great pizza, then left for an eight-hour drive to Zurich today where we ate yet another pizza. Zurich speaks German, but is an interesting mix of Italian, German, and a smidgen of French, though my French has been all but useless here. I am really looking forward to speaking my second language tomorrow when I meet up again with my best friend from Paris. He’s probably the biggest reason I was a French minor to begin with, then later decided to go all out with the major and switch from International business, so I could spend a year in Paris.

Suffice to say that I am very tired of traveling at this point, but also very happy to see some great friends over the next few weeks. It’s ironic how traveling comes in waves and you simply have to go with the flow, disregarding how you feel oftentimes.

I am excited to feel the French side of my personality return to the foreground of my mind; over the past couple of weeks adjusting to my family has done the same for some deep seeded aspects of my personality. The oldest sister is particularly responsible, but in the best way; she reminds me that I only have to be human and that there’s only so much I can do. Sometimes I can be too ambitious.

Verona and Modena beckon return journeys; Italy is a city far removed from certain technologies and has a culture of presence and amiability. I would love to spend a month there at some point in the far future. Zurich does as well, but perhaps in a trip all to its own; if this journey has taught me anything, it has been finding the gentle balance between movement and stillness, activity and resting. I should simply do what my nature beckons me to.

Fatigue is setting in at the apartment in Zurich, but the city is beautiful. Even the gas stations in Switzerland are health oriented, we stopped today and got an amazing green salad, fruit salad, and sandwich before our salmon pizza dinner. I can truly say that I am getting used to the amenities and absolute luxuries of the western world once again, though there is a newfound appreciation that is unexplainable.

My New song is being uploaded now, head over to alienmusique.wordpress.com to have a listen. A new Wanderer post is also on the way, which I have not forgotten about, but am spending a lot of time on the next major section of the “to-be” book. Thanks for reading 🙂

CDC/ Rodney M. Donlan, Ph.D.; Janice Carr (PHIL #7488), 2005

The Human Body is an Ecosystem (Part 3/5 : Oral Micro-Organisms)

Part 3: Micro-organisms in the Mouth

Please see the other parts of the article; once they are completed the links will be active:

Part 1: anatomy of the human microbiome
Part 2: micro-organisms on the skin
Part 4: micro-organisms in the gut
Part 5: implications for modern medicine

"Gingivitis (crop)" by Lesion - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gingivitis_(crop).jpg#/media/File:Gingivitis_(crop).jpg
this human really needs to floss

Your mouth harbors a diverse, abundant, and extremely complex community of microscopic organisms. These bacteria form biofilms on the soft and hard tissues of your mouth, tongue, cheeks, tonsils and upper throat; this adhesion allows them to stick on the surface. Essentially, these bacteria form a sticky or slimy film that builds-up over time. These biofilms are known as plaque and their build-up is what causes dental diseases, such as periodontal disease (which research suggests is always preceded by gingivitis) and dental caries (cavities) as well as other diseases if they are able to enter the bloodstream.

Plaque (oral bacteria) build-up in the mouth is normal; its control is what prevents tooth decay and gum disease. These bacteria have evolved mechanisms to evade and modify the host; the host in turn has a defense system that monitors bacterial colonization and prevents invasion. This equilibrium between the host and bacteria is dynamic and varies greatly from person to person.

When we are born, our mouths do not contain any bacteria yet; during the course of development bacteria accumulate to allow for the dynamic equilibrium that I previously mentioned. Some major landmarks are the growth of teeth, and full maturation at about the time of puberty. Some names of the bacteria are streptococci, lactobacilli (common in probiotic supplements), staphylococci, corynebacteria and some other anaerobic bacteria (non-oxygen consuming); streptococcus salivarius (think saliva) is very interesting because it colonizes the mouth and upper respiratory tract just after birth and is an opportunistic pathogen, meaning it rarely finds its way into the bloodstream to cause harm (usually a decrease in white blood cells) and is mostly beneficial to digestion.

You can probably see why disrupting the bacterial growth in your mouth is a daily activity; plaque build-up can cause unhealthy amounts of bacteria in the mouth, especially with large amounts of sugar consumption. Flossing should be a daily activity as well because it performs the same functions as brushing in that it reaches the places that your toothbrush doesn’t in between the teeth and along the gum-line. However, I think that brushing three times a day is probably somewhat of a myth promoted by the dental industries; once a day is probably all you need, unless you are eating food with high bacterial content or sugar content regularly, or food with high acidity (which is probably the case if you are vegan, vegetarian, or just eat lots of fruit).

The WHO (World Health Organization) says that nearly all adults have dental carries during their life. It’s estimated that currently 36% of the population has carries and that number is steadily increasing as the world becomes more developed because of simple sugar consumption. Remember that bacteria love sugar!

Interestingly, kissing with full tongue contact is evidenced to provide exposure to the oral micro-organisms of  the other and could be an indicator for the hosts about the bacterial health of their partner. This might indicate mating compatibility, amongst other things. Some of the bacteria that are shared on the tongue’s surface have long-term colonization effects, meaning that kissing might lead to increased diversity in tongue bacteria. Cool, right? So kissing might be some kind of a test for bacterial compatibility in your potential mate during the courting process.

This article is probably the shortest in the ecosystem of the human body series. I hope you are enjoying it! Part 4 is all about gut bacteria, so check back soon to learn all about gut health.

Please leave any questions or feedback in the comments, thanks for reading.

Sources:

  1. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0095454313001073
  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.0906-6713.2002.003421.x/abstract;jsessionid=3363B7658E220D69B2BDB670F2CE5436.f04t02
  3. http://my.americanheart.org/professional/General/The-Complexity-of-the-Periodontal-Disease_UCM_439052_Article.jsp#mainContent
  4. http://www.homd.org/
  5. http://jb.asm.org/content/192/19/5002.full
  6. http://www.microbiomejournal.com/content/2/1/41

 

"Rough diamond" by Unknown USGS employee - Original source: USGS "Minerals in Your World" website. Direct image link: [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rough_diamond.jpg#/media/File:Rough_diamond.jpg

Diamonds in the Rough

“A diamond has the highest hardness and thermal conductivity of any bulk material; it can be contaminated by very few types of impurities. Most natural diamonds are formed at high temperature and pressure. A material with superlative physical qualities, most of it original from the strong bonds between its atoms.” -Wikipedia

Sometimes, people rise above their circumstances to greatness. They are forged, hardened by pressure and time to rise above their surroundings and to become more than anyone thought they could become. I’ve been lucky to witness this in several people from all over the world. People all over the world have the capacity to be greater than their circumstances would “normally” dictate.

There’s a popular saying going around now: “Everyone is doing the best they can with what they have.” I have come to believe that this is completely untrue and a complete idealization; all you have to do is look at the amount of corruption in much of our species to know that people often take the easy way out. Look at the US senate, can you really say they are doing the best they can with what they have?We are lazy beings, like all other mammals we want to be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sun and the food it grows. (in balanced quantities of course)

This isn’t to say that people will always take advantage of everything they can; instead, its acknowledging that there will always be both sides to the equation; those that take complete advantage and those that take none and in fact give willingly with no thought of receiving. I’ve witnessed a lot of both lately while I’ve been traveling.

Yesterday was a rough day for me; the traveling and budget have gotten to me and I’m exhausted (you can read yesterday’s article on my mental fatigue here. But the equation will always balance itself out. Today I met an absolute gem of a woman on my way to the Minh Mang tomb. Her name was Rei Nguyen.

Rei was a farmer and told us that she and her husband made around 5 million dong per month (about $250). She sent her kids to a school that cost about 2 million per month, in the city of Hoi.

My girlfriend and I rented a scooter for $4 and headed to the tomb this morning, pretty excited to see the most renowned tomb in what appears to be the cultural center of Vietnam. Largely affected by the Vietnam War (known locally as the American War), we were able to see a lot of the effects of the war in our travels, most particularly the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). There was a good amount of propaganda at the museum, especially geared towards the use of illegal chemicals such as agent orange, the US’s involvement in the war, and Vietnam’s victims. This is not to say there wasn’t massive effect from illegal chemical weapons used by the US, but there was no mention of Russia, or of the civil war in Vietnam. As usual, there was a scapegoat to take the blame and the US took full brunt force of it; it’s probably deserved. (again, I’m not saying I know the situation, but I’ve seen this before in WWI & WWII propaganda, Civil War propaganda, and pretty much every war in history is necessarily affected by propaganda where one country is blamed for the entirety of the war)

Rei’s english was incredibly good for anyone in Vietnam, let alone a farmer with an education that ended when she was 12. She works 10 hour days out in the fields with her husband and eats mostly rice and noodles, though she wasn’t malnourished as far as I could tell. She was extremely kind to us, showed us a shortcut to the tomb and then invited us to her small house by the river to talk and have some tea.

The tomb was incredibly peaceful; death has a way of making the life so powerful.  We walked around the tomb for a couple of hours in the scorching heat and humidity, then returned with her to her home.

Happy_in_Vietnam

I noticed she was lucky enough to have electricity and running water; he house was small, with wooden walls and a tin roof and she graciously offered us tea while we spoke about her life and how my life was very different from hers. She ultimately ended up asking for money for her children’s school, but it was far more of an afterthought than most of what I have experienced in Vietnam. Most will ask for money, then turn their back and mutter under their breath when you refuse their service. She offered us a kind smile and sharing of words and experiences that has been unique in my trip to Vietnam.

In this trip, I’ve met people poorer than you can imagine that still show kindness and refuse to take extra money no matter how hard you try. I’ve met people who I’ve gotten along with like I’ve known them my whole life.

One sterling example of this is one of my Muslim friends from Yemen; probably the one of the nicest and friendliest people I have ever met. He owns about six AK47’s at his home and Yemen and left to pursue a more peaceful education in Mysore. Yemen is currently in Civil war and he has been directly affected by it with the death of some of his immediate family members, yet still he pursues kindness and happiness relentlessly. I was with him while it started and there was definitely a lot of swearing and frustration, but it didn’t change his outlook. He goes against any stereotype I could have held against someone of the Muslim religion.

The owner of the Chakra house, Rajesh was like this as well; one of the nicest and most relaxed people I have ever met. He and I will be friends just like the day I left if I ever return to Mysore (which is highly probable). It’s funny how you meet people who you feel like you’ve known your whole life when you travel.

People are individuals and that’s how they should be treated. One is not representative of the whole, because there is so much variation in our species. So at the same time that there are all of these awesome people I have met, there are also some abominable ones.

Let me give you some examples, from history. I don’t like to talk about negatives in reality because people can change and who am I to judge them. With that said, world leaders are different and I feel at full liberty to judge their decisions. There are some terrible people in our world: Kim Jong Il, definitely not doing the best with what he has especially after his most recent execution; neither did Stalin, or Hitler, or Mussolini. Even American leaders smell of stank corruption that can ruin the people: George Bush, Dick Cheney, Nixon, Ulysses S Grant, Kennedy. Even the greatness of America has such powerful potential for corruption because of the essence of its power.

The truth is, humans will look out for themselves before others and in our modern world we absolutely HAVE to expect this from everyone. Think about it this way; even if you are about self-sacrifice, you would give to your children first and foremost the greatest opportunity to succeed in the world. We look out for ourselves before others and this isn’t a bad thing, it’s simply the reality of humanity. This is why the US is struggling right now, our system of checks and balances has become completely unbalanced in the wake of our economic prosperity in the 80s and 90s and leaders continue to take advantage of the people they rule just as they have since the beginning of time.

Unfortunately, this can even apply to our immediate family. You see celebrities with major mental and stability problems, likely because they can’t even trust their support systems and families anymore (this is just my observation, feel free to comment on it). It’s really sad, but that’s how money can corrupt people. Greed, it seems, is simultaneously the great human strength and weakness.

But on the other side, there are people who will give without even caring about what they receive; they give kindness freely and love as often as they can, as long as their basic needs are met. Sometimes, they even defy those. Remember to think of it as an equation, because that’s what the world we live in requires.

Writing yesterday made me feel so much better, today the same. I really hope that these comments are misunderstood, I am trying to be very objective and am applying my experiences to the greater scope of the world we live in together. I walked around today with a big smile and decided that I would kill my fatigue with kindness and it has worked. I feel a hell of a lot better.

Please let me know what you think of this article in the comments, or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/padayoga

I always love to hear from readers.

overpopulation: John B Calhoun rat universes

Overpopulation and its Potential Effects on Humanity

Overpopulation and Humanity’s Destiny

If we don’t halt population growth with justice and compassion, it will be done for us by nature, brutally and without pity- and will leave a ravaged world.

-Nobel Laureate Dr. Henry W. Kendal

 

By the year 2050, the Earth’s population is estimated to reach a staggering 9.6 billion people. Many scientists would consider this to be overpopulation of the planet. It is currently believed that there are 7.2 billion people on Earth, but this is just a guess. In reality, we don’t really have any idea how many people are on the planet, just a lot of supposedly “good guesses”. And unless we make some major breakthroughs in the fields of energy, ecology, climatology, and agriculture the human race has a good chance of experiencing a severe decline in population, possibly even extinction because of overpopulation. A lot of things need to change in our civilization’s infrastructure if the human race wants to survive for the next millennia and even more if we are to prosper.

I’m not an alarmist. There’s no need to panic. But you should probably reconsider your consumption patterns, because you will be economically pressured to change them in the next 20 years. Especially if you live in the United States. But the world isn’t going to end in the next 6 months. In fact, Earth will be fine, especially in the long run. We live on a planet that is incredibly good at balancing itself, which we are seeing now with the effects of climate change (see my review of ‘Chasing Ice’ if you want some good evidence of what is happening to the glaciers of the planet). But weather patterns are going to get more and more severe unless we can find ways to mitigate the greenhouse gas effect and humanity’s consumption of fossil fuels.

A Tipping Point for Humanity’s Population?

It is entirely possible that human’s have reached what scientists call “peak oil”. At this point, we might be running out of oil, even though in the last 6 months we have isolated and reproduced a fungus that can produce petroleum. We might also be able to clean up the world’s largest oil spills with a different type of fungus. Advancements in science are what is going to save us. If you don’t know about the scientific method, you should read this article.

All of these developments can be attributed to the massive growth in human population at the cost of our environment. These problems WOULD NOT exist if humanity was better at living symbiotically with our environment. Yes, I say this with 100% certainty. We tend not to look at situations holistically and see only what is in front of us. In this overpopulated state, we need to either mitigate the effects of our oil use while simultaneously finding sustainable sources of it, or we need to find an alternate, sustainable fuel source for the world’s transportation.

Alan Watts said that the fundamental problem with the current state of society is man’s isolation from nature. This allows for our overpopulation of the planet. Things like A/C, cars, roads, airplanes, deforestation, warehouses, skyscrapers, and dams are all examples of destruction of the environment rather than cultivation. Some of these things can be symbiotic with nature if architected properly (ie climate regulation, terraforming, sustainable fuels, nuclear fusion, etc.). Watts said that in the 60s.

The problem with humans is that we view ourselves as separate from our environment, when in fact the two are the same. Religion is a huge cause of this. For some reason, we feel like we are better than our environment, better than animals, because god made us special. In my last article on human microbiota, I explained how humans have a hole inside of us, called the gastrointestinal tract or gut, that is really a part of the outside environment. So in reality, humans and our environment are the same thing. It is largely our ego and search for control that has led us to believe that we are ‘superior to’ or greater than our environment.

The problems are rather simple. Yet people have a tendency to  be so over-reactive to seeing how humans have affected our environment. This allows news companies and especially shitty internet journalism to get an emotional rise out of us. And after this emotional reaction, we tend to become inactive and hopeless, rather than adjusting our behavior. I’ve witnessed this personally within myself. I waste energy on an emotional reaction, rather than thinking about how much waste I create on a daily basis. There are examples in our modern culture. Water consumption in southern California is an excellent example. Some people don’t even believe that there is really a drought.

Americans, as only 5% of the world’s population, use 24% of the world’s energy; some sources estimate the average American uses as much as 160 gallons of water a day. So instead of writing emotional facebook posts, being reactive and emotional about the issue take matters into your own hands; take shorter showers, try to drive less (obviously you have to drive to work and to get your kids to soccer and all that stuff because our infrastructure isn’t setup symbiotically). Try to use less energy, wash only dirty clothes, turn off your lights. Then you can stop worrying about our planet because that’s all you can do. Manage yourself.

We need to consider what it might be like if we had to live in 100% unity with our environment; which sooner or later will become a necessity if we are to survive with such a large population. Cities will be rebuilt. Freeways will be redesigned. We are already seeing the beginning of some amazing developments.

Answers to the problem of overpopulation?

Nuclear fusion might be the answer to our energy problems, but that technology is expensive and we’re going to have to wait for it. However, creating and harnessing the power of stars is how we will survive for the next millennia. There are a few awesome projects happening that might excite you for the future, rather than scare you away from it. The international thermonuclear reactor project is an exciting project underway and Lockheed Martin has somewhat suspiciously said that they have an even more compact reactor on the way (the scientific community is very skeptical because they haven’t yet released data). Our ingenuity will be the key to our survival.

I am trying to say that hopelessness is a silly conclusion and that hope is key to survival and prosperity. One way to inform yourself of some of the negative possibilities in our future is to learn about John Calhoun’s mouse paradise experiments on overpopulation. It is a concept known as the behavioral sink, or societal collapse due to overpopulation. However, even Calhoun left his studies with hope for the future of humanity, especially considering that there were rats that seemed to be resilient to the effects of overpopulation. His studies involved creating mouse utopias, then allowing the mice to overpopulate. In his studies he found

“Many [female mice] were unable to carry pregnancy to full term or to survive delivery of their litters if they did. An even greater number, after successfully giving birth, fell short in their maternal functions. Among the males the behavior disturbances ranged from sexual deviation to cannibalism and from frenetic overactivity to a pathological withdrawal from which individuals would emerge to eat, drink and move about only when other members of the community were asleep. The social organization of the animals showed equal disruption. […]

The common source of these disturbances became most dramatically apparent in the populations of our first series of three experiments, in which we observed the development of what we called a behavioral sink. The animals would crowd together in greatest number in one of the four interconnecting pens in which the colony was maintained. As many as 60 of the 80 rats in each experimental population would assemble in one pen during periods of feeding. Individual rats would rarely eat except in the company of other rats. As a result extreme population densities developed in the pen adopted for eating, leaving the others with sparse populations.

[…] In the experiments in which the behavioral sink developed, infant mortality ran as high as 96 percent among the most disoriented groups in the population.”

-John B Calhoun from “Population density and social pathology”(1970). California medicine 113

We have Hope for the Future

Over-reactivity from fear is something you should actively fight within yourself. Overpopulation is a problem that humanity can work together to solve. There is no need for fear. Find hope, reasons to belief in your own ability to consume less, if no one else’s. Fear and panic are the enemies to social order. Stop believing the news, especially internet articles aimed at reactivity. That’s what they want, to shock you into reading. If you can fight your fear with hope and action you will lead yourself to more action oriented at personal results, therefore affecting the collective in the greatest possible way that you personally can. See what  you can do, challenge yourself, experiment with alternate lifestyle behaviors. You’ll surprise the shit out of yourself 😉

brain_map

Chemicals in Yoga

Everything is chemical. It is the basis of all matter in the universe.

It is easy to think of some chemicals as good and some as bad, but this is really a silly way to look at it, because most chemicals are useful in one form or fashion. Some interact poorly with the chemical composition of your body and this is why you view them as good, or bad, or what have you.

The truth is, that chemicals have a very real potential and a very real danger when misunderstood and mistreated. Some great examples are drugs, oil, water, food, really all of the imbalances that we perceive in our current world are chemical imbalances. But we ourselves are natural and chemical, so it is important to remember that being a human is having a mostly stable chemical composition.

So we can say that certain chemicals, especially purified chemicals, can be extremely potent to the human body and can enact change within the body, to produce a certain effect. This has become known as medicine, where we take mostly plants and process them, somehow to interact with the body.

Even the word ‘naturally’ is a corrupted word in modern marketing; synthesized chemicals are certainly natural, but people tend to think that natural means closer to nature, or less processed. But since processing itself is natural, everything is viewed as natural. So it is a repetitive word that can be ignored. But in any case, saying chemical is repetitive. Of course it is chemical.

What people really are referring to when they say they want less chemicals is that they want less processing, less synthesis and more extrapolation. Purity is becoming more and more preferable as an ideal in food and cleaning products and things that we are exposed to, which is really a transference from other aspects of culture, religiousness and such from our ancestors.

So its important to realize that there is nothing that happens inside of you that isn’t there. All of the chemicals in your brains are what create all of your experiences. Each one has happened inside of you. Drugs are not magical, they interact with the brain in very specific patterns, however, we have coined drugs as strange chemicals with strange effects, things to be feared. They are not things to be feared, but parts of your self to be understood. For each acts as a mirror, a specific poison giving you a window into the unknowable, into the deep fathoms of your unconscious mind. To fear a drug is to fear an aspect of yourself, and perhaps there is no greater fear than to fear yourself.

Drugs are really an internal interaction cause by the reaction of introduction of a new substance. Your experience on the drugs is your bodies reaction to them, the processing of them. It is not something that exists outside of you, although you have introduced a foreign substance into your body’s chemical make-up. So your body is essentially reacting and this is what you experience. This is why certain drugs have nearly no long-term effects and some have effects that can last a lifetime, because your body is more or less efficient at processing them. And it learns and adapts. This is why psilocybin can have less and less effects the more that you do it, the same with LSD, marijuana, etc. So there is really nothing happening outside of what your body is doing and how it is interacting and reaction to the substance that you have introduced to it.

This leads us to see the body as having an enormous potential and as understanding how we subjectively view things as changing us. In fact, we are changing ourselves.

To move on to some more significant discussion, I would like to talk about 3 substances, chemicals, which yoga seems to have a tremendous effect on. Serotonin, Dopamine, and Melatonin are in my opinion three of the most interesting molecules or chemicals in existence.

All three are hormones/neurotransmitters, all three are present in a vast spectrum of life, contributing to the homeostasis of lifeforms across the biological spectrum.

Melatonin might be the most interesting, seen in plants, fungi, and bacteria in anticipation for the daily onset of darkness. In humans, it regulates the internal clock, or circadian rhythm, as well as seasonal cycling. There are many popular uses for melatonin, but there are few studies on its long-term effects and there is almost no research to show usefulness as medicine, or therapy. Its long-term effects are almost completely unknown. However, it can be found in the retinas of the eyes and seems to interact in very strong ways with dopamine and serotonin, and has a tremendous effect on the immune system and for protecting specific important cells. It is used as a drug primarily to allow humans to co-exist in nocturnal environments.

Dopamine is an intrinsic part of the action-reward cycles of conscious attention and is extremely important for learning. It interacts strongly with melatonin and can be found in the retinas of the eyes as well. Melatonin and dopamine both interact in interesting ways to light, stimulating dopamine while suppressing melatonin. This is mostly affected by stimulants, such as cocaine (why users always want more), or ADD medications such as adderoll, conserta, ritalin, etc. By overstimulating the prefrontal cortex and the dopamine pathways within, you can keep hyperactive children quiet, because their brain is receiving added stimulation from the slow release of chemicals in their brain. It is what allows for beings to interact intelligently with their environment.

Serotonin is one of the most interesting hormone/neurotransmitters in the body. 90% of it is in the gut, yet it is known as the happiness neurotransmitter. Its is probably the primary communication device between the stomach and the brain. Again, the messenger is found in fungi and plants, and it is believed it is one of the primary factors in a feeling of abundance or scarcity of resources. It is also evidenced to have a role in social rank, because the availability of food signifies this. It can also have an effect in stimulating bone mass. Studies have also shown that nutrition in early life can have an effect upon the body later in life. This is the chemical that most euphoric drugs are attempting to target, with the exception of cocaine. MDMA is one of the purest ways to stimulate serotonin release from the synaptic vesicles of neurons.

Now lets talk about yoga. It’s easy to see how yoga can affect the dopamine system; rebalancing due to lack of stimulus. This is why many people find yoga to be tortuously boring, yet understand the effect of spending an hour and a half in mindfulness, or mediation, or whatever. Dopamine regulation is indeed a major goal of the yogic practice: to keep the fluctuations of pleasure and pain on an even keel. Thus you keep the mind from fluctuating.

Melatonin is something that seems to receive large effect from yoga, as sleep patterns have been clinically evidenced to improve from yoga classes while even studies on injected dopamine have not evidenced the same positive effects. Learning to cycle with the sun, or at least to adjust to the sun’s cycling is an intrinsic part of the yogi’s journey. “Sun Salutations” seem to have quite a bit more meaning in light of the melatonin system.

Serotonin, lastly, is one of the more interesting of the three. This is where nutrition in yoga starts to become a larger and larger factor. Eventually, you will begin to find more equilibrium within your digestive system to optimize time in the yoga studio, in the asana, as it would be. Your bodies nutrition can have a direct effect upon your happiness, though modern science has nearly no data on this type of emotional nutrition relationship. There is too much money to be made in between the science with fads such as fat-free, sugar-free, diet, which are really marketing campaigns for food manufacturers.

With yoga, you can find balance between the three systems, inverting the bodies fluids moving them around, heating them up in various ways and using various techniques, breathing, sitting still, and a certain concentration on nothing to allow the pleasure/pain/stimulus/reward system to re-balance.

Enlightenment, it seems, could be broken down into the consistent flow of dopamine, without fluctuation, seratonin flushing from the gut up to the brain through inversions such as Sirsasana, Sarvangasana, and continually folding forward, bending the spine back and forth to get the circulatory system pumping everything into a balanced state for the body to enjoy for the day. Intense yoga classes can also stimulate the adrenal glands in specific ways that allow for deeper relaxation and “letting go”.

Just some thoughts, some research that I did on Google Scholar, etc. If you would like me to post some supporting evidence I’ll be happy to!

 

 

progress_evolution

Progress Where?

I am a bit confused about something. Where are we all going? Where is the progress of this world’s technology, science, and medicine taking us? Since we have industrialized as a country, it seems that we are all trying to progress towards something. it seems to be some ideal of hope (thanks Obama, you asshole), or space travel to colonize another planet (we keep searching, but our planet is still the best we know of and we are destroying it actively), or even to just push things to the next level. But I am really confused about what that is. Why are we pillaging our planet’s resources for great efficiency and more power? There is no destination besides the one we are already at. These things do not lead us anywhere and certainly do not lead to increased happiness. As a race, we need to reconsider what we value, what we want to protect. We need to make the decision of where we want to go collectively so that we can stop wasting our planet going in circles.

I see a world being built right now that I do not want to be a part of. Climate change is acceptable, endangered species are normal, pollution isn’t a big concern, people work in cubicles, drive square cars, live in square houses with square lawns and driveways and windows, dogs are left in kennels all day or stuck in square houses, genetically modified foods kill our bees, we are a part of a dictatorship that forces us into war, our troops get little support for all that they sacrifice, our veterans are forgotten, and our wars aren’t really wars. Prescription drugs are given to 5 year olds because they can’t sit still in a classroom listening to a boring teacher talk about something boring, teenage girls are constantly told they aren’t good enough and need the newest beauty products, and all the while, we sit in our cubicles, saddened by our depressing jobs, waiting for something to change but knowing that it probably won’t.

Why does it seem like we have no control? I thought the American people were the ones that made the decisions, the free-est most powerful people in the world, right? Looks like we have a pretty messed up system going down and I think its going to get worse. We can’t even choose our presidential candidates, people within the individual parties that are influential and well liked within that party get sponsored by major corporations that pay for their campaign. Then the amount of advertising done during the campaign usually determines who wins. People vote, but their votes for president don’t count. Really, the only thing that matters for them is the local elections, which don’t affect things on a big scale. We are stuck with a shitty system, with shitty people in charge that have had to claw their way to the top through massive amounts of shit to get to the top of the pile.

So we are in a dilema. What do we do, it seems so overwhelmingly messed up and dysfunctional. But we can’t waste energy worrying about it, or we will be asleep before we know it. I think we should stop putting energy into the problems and start putting energy into how you want to live. Grow your own food, supply your own water, build sustainably, cultivate eco-systems instead of farms, stop driving so much, ride a bike, keep buying electric and hybrid cars, support small business instead of Wal-mart, eat organic and avoid Monsanto, but most of all, vote for what you want every day. Support what you believe in, stop giving in, stop compromising your values. Its hard, but we have to do it, or this world will be dead and us with it. This is our home, lets start acting like it.

So stop going places without purpose, start being where you are with purpose. In yoga, there is this idea called “Dharma” and it means purpose, conduct, virtues, laws, values, rights, and “the right way to live”. I think that as a planet, we are out of balance, we are too focused on progress. There is a natural balance between Pragati, and Dharma or progress and purpose in life and we are too far on the pragati side, for no reason. This leads to depression, sickness and overall increased disease in our lives. We have enough progress, the technology available today is simply mind numbingly incredible; as a race, we have to learn how to use it effectively to help fulfill our purpose. So what is the purpose of all of this progress?

I don’t think we have to know the answer. As a race, we are still very young, we understand so little about ourselves. But I do think that the method is just as important as the outcome (if not more important in the majority of cases) and the way we are doing things is not leading to prosperity of the whole. A lot of people mention that if there were no countries, there would be no war, but we have to organize ourselves into groups somehow. If it’s not countries, it’s something else. I don’t think this is the problem, but I do think that we need to start defining ourselves as members of the world, rather than citizens of a country. Lets start to unite, rather than separate and blame every time there is a conflict. If I hear about bombing Iraq one more time, I am going to lose my shit…

I know this is controversial, and a rant, but I was feeling ranty, political, and frustrated this morning. Everyone seems to be going nowhere really fast and I don’t get it. Can we please slow things down and enjoy ourselves? So much work and so little play. Where the hell is everyone going anyways? Lets just hang out together and have a little party…

Responses, comments, criticisms are totally welcome!

Scroll to Top