I decided to create this page to have a place for you to leave your comments, impressions, anything really that has come out of your reading of the blog, Mark’s website, his book, or from taking class with him. As Mark likes to ask, “Any burning questions, comments, or statements?” Please leave your mark.
I was reading your book the other evening, and came across the part where you mention it taking decades for you to clear your mind of social thought that hinders our growth as human beings. I believe I am in this process presently- I tried following Rene Descartes meditation process of completely emptying the mind of all that has been forced into it through social relations, and then consciously choosing those beliefs that are meaningful to you. My question is: Can this process be extremely painful at times? I was meditating one night and experienced a total sense of emptiness. My faith in God has been doubtful since that experience. A positive feeling that has come from this process is a sense of an expanded space all around me and others. The only way I can explain this is to use an example. I feel that if I am in the company of someone who is really angry, there is a space around each me that allows for me to choose a response, almost as if I am not connected to that person, in their anger, but free to choose from the limitless possibilities of options available. Does this make sense?
I patiently await your response.
PS I did a workshop with you at Kripalu and then came to one of your classes in NY. We both love Bruce Springsteen, and I live in Asbury Park. That information will probably ring a bell.
PSS If anyone who reads this posting has some helpful comments and/or suggestions, they are sincerely welcomed.
Hi Ellen, Nice to hear from you. I did not see your writing until now. Sorry.
I think it is a matter of having a “friendly” ie intimate relationship with everything… even pain or even someone else’s anger. We acknowledge the fact of the situation and be present to it. So much spiritual teaching and techniques ignore the fact that we are nurtured and sustained and we can and do have a nurturing connectedness to all our experience. Those teaching want us to be aware or detached, which can leave an empty feeling. I say get connected, be intimate. Value others completely as the one life, one body of life. Of course some times it may be possible or necessary to change the circumstances and recognize that it is other people’s karma’s, patterns and not our own.. and move out of the inconvenience. But often it is dear friends or family and must be Present in a positive way. And if we can’t do that, do some Yoga and return to link to the person again. Hope i make SOME sense
LOVE to you
i kept my promise.
many thanks for an excellent workshop.
I decided to start doing yoga about five weeks ago. My body was so full of aches and pains that just getting out of bed in the morning was a challenge. I could not imagine how bad things would be in ten years’ time – I’m only 46! Almost as soon as I had made the decision to start, I came across Yoga of Heart. Talk about the right teacher at the right time! Learning to do yoga this way was, for me, like coming home, like opening the door to a house I knew well – it was, of course, my own body!
My daily practice is a joy, and I love the way the breath and movements meld together into a deeply graceful dance. It feels wonderful.
Thank you, Mark. Even now I can get up in the morning with vigour, and I look forward to each day with calm anticipation and inner strength.
I was in your workshop this weekend at Jay Brown’s (and also this summer @ yogaworks). Thank you – your teaching is clearly cumulative, and my daily practice recharged.
We spoke of pain this weekend, and I came across this quote today from the playwright Zeami Motokiyo; it was a header in another poet, Anne Carson’s book “Plainwater:”
the world so unsure, unknowable
the world so unsure, unknowable
who knows – our griefs may
hold our greatest hopes.
with deep respect and affection,
thanks for the beautiful poem. thought i’d add two more to the mix.
Great Mother is coming
She will swallow us whole
we will sway
stupified and wonderous
in Her grace
down into her Her gullet
and up along
Her rivers of light
we will sway and melt
by Ana Holub
(to which Mark would like us to know- Great Mother is Here now)
and one more called “Mother Gaia” by Lesley Weldon
We cannot blame her
For crying great torrents of rain
So great is her sorrow
For sobbing sometimes uncontrollably
And shaking her great shoulders
So intense is her pain.
I finally was able to find the right blog page to share my positive experiences from meeting you in October at Kirpalu
I continue to do my practice with an open heart and feelings of peace, freedom and connection to the devine.
I pray that others can and will join your teachings wherever you go… You have made such a positive impact on my life and have given me what I needed so badly after losing my husband almost 6 months ago.
I feel connected not lost, I feel whole and nurtured everything your teachings promised.
I love my practice and I am thrilled to have you with me always as I purchased your dvd Real Yoga for Real People
a MUST buy for anyone who has the same positive experience from any of your workshops.
Bless you for your kindness and words of wisdom and introducing me to Yoga at 62 years of age.
Watching your video through Yogamates, always enjoyable listening to your words, just feeling appreciative for our communication!
I have never taken a Yoga course till I took your weekend seminar at Esalen in December. In that class, you spoke of what you also say in your website: through practicing Yoga you will know that…”you are fully loved, you are fully able, you are perfectly capable the way you are”. This made little sense to me till the end of the weekend. This is what you were able open my eyes and see:
Yoga starts by focusing us on our heart. Then we focus on our breathing and our movements.
Our heart helps deliver our source of life throughout our body by pumping our blood. Simply being alive makes us able.
For me and most people, love is shared and expressed through hugs. The heart’s pumping motion of squeezing is a hugging motion around our life source (our blood). It is an expression of love, keeping us alive and able. Stepping out from the heart, our lung expand with the air we breathe in, also giving us life and making us able. The breathing motion of our lungs expanding then contracting as we exhale is again a hugging motion. Stepping out from our lungs, our arm motion swing out, each in large semi-circles, is also reminiscent to a hug. As we live our lives with others we share the love we are made aware of through Yoga: we hug others. We learn to embrace the world around us through our understanding and connection with it. Continuing this progression outward, starting with our blood cells and traveling to our heart, lungs, arms, contact with others and our world we can reach for the ends of the universe.
If we practice Yoga then we are alive, we can feel loved and should be aware of our connection to everything in the universe.
I have practiced my Yoga for 7 minutes plus, everyday (except Christmas day) since the weekend seminar.
Thank you friend,
I have heard that you might be in Sydney in April. Is this true?
I just saw your workshop in NZ next weekend, but I can’t muster up funds to get there on such short notice, and I would really like to meet you. So if you know your dates in Australia or NZ for the next while, please let me know!
Hello Nadine, I am at the Australia Yoga Conference April 17 19th in Sydney. I think we will have a few events around Sydney after that too. I hope I meet you too. Thanks for your kind message.
Best from me
Beautiful Mark…You have blessed me and I thank you…I’m on BI now…missing beautiful Maui. Doing my practice everyday and even teaching on Sun. You once said, “your a good yogini”and I am. Missing you and always in my heart. Donna Flora…Hawaii
I would like to say how much I enjoyed the workshop in Utrecht over the past 2 days.
You truly teach as you say. There is no pedestal, no ‘distance’, and you tell your ‘unorthodox’ message in a way that is ‘straightforward’, compelling and hard-hitting. For me personally, the basis for the power in your method lies in the fact that you did not tell me anything I did not already ‘know’ . This basis, combined with your way of bringing the message and with the way of practice, allowed me to experience this ‘knowledge’ in a new way, with my mind, my heart, and my full being.
My 7 minutes today became 45 which I relished. To continue the metaphor from the workshop, I cast aside the stepping stone and immersed myself in the river…
All the best on your travels.
thank you for having been in Germany. It was a profound experience again.
I already knew you from last year. At that time I was very low on energy running around looking for a healer, a therapist or just someone who could help me. A friend of mine who is a Qi Gong teacher told me that I should look for someone from my tradition but I told her that I keep looking and I just cannot find anyone.
Then, two days later, by chance, I dropped into your satsang. I was so glad to hear someone talk that way, with so much care and feeling and above all talking things that made sense and could be understood without your brain running wild for two days. And I think I was crying through most of your talk (I hope not all of it is in the video they shoot) but afterwards all the pain, the confusion and the heavyness I had been feeling were just gone.
It was equally profound this time. I will not even start to write why because right now I feel I would have to write a book if I were to put my experience in words. But for myself I tried to put in words what was the deepest experience. And it was this feeling of surrender and the certainty that if you do this everything will be all right. As you put it: You are absolutely loved and cared for. It is a feeling that will never leave me again.
Thank you for your message, thank you for this experience….
Thank you also for those 7 minutes. During the last year I have been racking my brain trying to think of a method to get my students to practice more regularly. You helped me immeasurably with your class and those 7 minutes…
I hope I will see you soon in the future and be able to join an another class, satsang or workshop
Yoga is very deceptive and a form of channeling peace within your on strenghth and power. Apart from the will of you God you are able to do nothing. Inner spirituality in not way to go!
I just want to say thank you for everything, and for giving so freely of your time, at the Sydney Yoga Conference.
I wanted to wait a little while and see whether the feeling faded, before telling you I get it. I get it. It’s the breathing. Your book gave me permission to start questioning, but until I met and practicd with you, despite TWO TRIPS to KYM, I didn’t quite get it. Culture barrier? Slightly thick? Don’t know.
Now, I do understand. I feel so much more spacious; my practice is the same, but entirely different, and yes, it has completely changed the intimacy with my husband. And you are right. There is no problem, I did just make it up in my head. It’s such a relief!
I looked around at the faces in Flinders Street Station the other day and felt…love. Connection. That’s been happening a lot, and I feel that to breathe IN the way you taught us is like Love.
I’ve been passing on your teachings, and people just unfold into themselves. It’s incredible – their bodies find comfortable, natural alignmet, their inhales improve, and they can be in themselves at the end of practice. Yay! Quite a few have told me the breathing feels…right, natural. And they want to do it again and again.
It was wonderful meeting you and participating in two of your classes at the MW Yoga Conference. I felt like I had come home.
Being 65 (almost), I have read voraciously and studied works by Krishnamurti, Nasargadatta, and many others.
I have also practiced yoga for at least 30 years – much of it solo.
Consciously using the breath adds everything to practice.
I inhale receiving, love, strength, nurturing, healing, regeneration, and spirit. I also release this back out into the world.
As promised, I have done this everyday – the 7 minutes usually expands. However, I intend to make this my daily pracitce always (like you said, anyone has 7 minutes) – and this gets me to my mat. I am so grateful to you.
I hope that your travel brings you to the Midwest, Indianapolis, in particular. We have a strong yoga community. My teacher recently hosted Krishna Das, and in December of last year, we had the honor of working with Koki Busia for three days. He seemed well at the time. I was sadened to hear of his death. But, I am so fortunate to have been able to spend time with him.
Thank you for your wisdom and presence.
I wouldl ove to study with you. Will you be treveling to Vancouver? Semoperviva Yoga studio works closely with Yoga Works. Please consider BC in 2010.
Hi. I am Kit, a yoga teacher in Skokie, Illinois. I have stumbled on your videos on YouTube, your website here and your Podcast on iTunes. I am probably like many teachers; trying to distill the essence of yoga and pass along the benefit to my students. It’s an everyday challenge for me. I have found your compassion and clarity very refreshing and helpful in tempering the yelling of Iyengar. My yoga, and my teaching, will forever be changed because you have found the time to share your understandings. Thank you and keep up the work you are doing. It makes a difference.
Taught a class the other day using your principles and a student was just raving after class – radiantly she cried out “I feel like I’m on a high from drugs!”
Actually what you teach is better than drugs – no hangover, unlimited supply, and you won’t go to jail if someone catches you doing it.
I’ve been on and off with a yoga practice for 10 years – there were times, in fact, when i remember feeling a strong aversion to everything Yoga (and I realize now it was all the stuff and yuckiness around the ‘industry’ that was turning me off). Anyway, i’m now back to a daily practice and feel very gentle and real in my approach (most of the time).
i would like to learn how to teach. I can’t find a teacher training program from you so if you don’t teach students how to teach others, where should i go?
Please tell me where i could go to learn. I’ve had over 20 years teaching fitness and what i like to call yoga-inspired movements, so i do have a solid teaching background. My life is occupied with 3 young children which places some restrictions on my travel (I’m a Vancouverite living in Switzerland) but it’s not impossible with careful arrangments.
I’ll look foward to your reply/suggestions.
With thanks and great regard,
I made a confession to Mark the other weekend in Pula, Croatia and he asked me to share it with his blog readers. So here it goes…
Up until last weekend when my perspective did a complete 180 degree turn, I have found the lustful looks from my partner, including his sexual advances, to be a bit juvenile and, dare I say it? Irritating. My perspective has so dramatically changed in the last week that it is hard to remember why it was that I was so turned off but let me try to touch back into that mind-set.
What can I say? Another confession: for well over a decade, almost two, I’ve been a seeker – training my conscious mind with an unwavering fervour. The discipline of all my enlightened practices, including, of course, meditation and self-help reading, has been both addictive and consuming. While I have enjoyed a clear understanding and awareness of why I do the things I do, etc, and have maintained an acute level of daily mindfulness, I realize how much I’ve been missing (including a wonderful sex life with my man). Listening to Mark talk about enjoying our life, including our sexual selves, made me realize how much I wasn’t.
Now I wouldn’t go so far as to say that all my ‘self-discovery’ work was turning me off sex, per se, it just wasn’t really turning me on (to anything, let alone my enthusiastic and ready-to-go partner). As I look back I see that my lack of interest at being sexual was due, in large part to the fact that my mind was so occupied – so busy was I with the watching of my life that I was missing the most important part of life – experiencing it!!!
Yoga, and the promise of yoga, is washing away the watcher in me like a wave washes away a tired old sandcastle. The practice of postures and breathing is clearing the decks and just leaving ME now – ready, available, responsive, welcoming. I feel I am daily stripping away my considerations and insights, my awarenesses and figurings and that in this daily empyting I am opening. I am opening to a greater intimacy with my self, my wonderful partner and our 3 lovely angels who are 5, 4 and 2 years old and just soaking in their worlds at an alarming rate (and always when we are not noticing!).
Uncomplicating my self and my life on this earth is a gift to me and my entire family. If I can teach one thing to my children in addition to ‘breath’, it would be simply to enjoy themselves whist honouring their communities and worlds. This simple message can be taught to a pre-schooler – in fact, now that I think about it, my pre-schoolers have been teaching this very message to me (and only now am I paying attention). It is another valued teacher who continually reminds me: Children are the Miracle. Since my yoga weekend in Croatia, I am now seeing how that message strings perfectly with one which was offered by Mark: “When we stop looking, the natural state, which is love, seeps through”.
It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
(It’s why we’re here.)
In love and All,
Thank you for a awe-some workshop at Esalen, Labor Day weekend. As I said during the event, I found it by chance–I chose Esalen, my partner chose the workshop. And so surprisingly, it was just what I needed at this stage of my yoga practice. I have known for some time that I wanted to retreat from studio classes to develop a deeper personal practice. I had resisted because of a feeling that I wasn’t doing enough at home. You helped me find the confidence to walk this new path and provided a useful set of tools as well. I want to particularly thank you for the sense of community you created among the participants. I admit to initial skepticism in the early phases as you engaged participants in discussion. As the workshop proceeded I wanted more and more to hear from the other students.
One minor suggestion: I would have appreciated starting with the “7-minute” practice and then launching into the discussion. For me I think it would have made the teaching initially more accessible.
And one final observation: At 61, far from elderly, you have the broad, open chest of a youth. I suspect that this is the result of a lifetime of remaining open at the heart. Your body is a tribute to the philosophy you teach. May you find renewed strength to continue the important work you do.
Thanks, Heidi (61)
It’s now been four weeks since leaving OMEGA institute and I thought I would write to report on my progress. I have kept my promise of a minimum seven minute a day practice. Actually my seven minutes is more like 45 including asana, pranayama and meditation first thing in the morning.
This has had a profound influence on my life. Friends and associates regularly comment on how calm and relaxed I seem even in the face of stressful situations.
I continue to spread the word of ‘Yoga for all’ and encourage you to continue touching the lives of so many. Thanks again for sharing your gift.
Dearest Mark, I am writing you to say thank you! Your ideas and thoughts have resonated so deeply with me, really helping me uncover some radical parts of my yoga practice and myself that I didn’t know were there previously. I own a studio in upstate NY (a small town called Beacon NY) that is still a very young studio, (just two years old) as is the yoga community here. We are the first yoga studio in the town, of Beacon, and many people are just starting to dip their toes into the “yoga waters”. It is such a sweet community, with people who have wide open hearts- from all walks of life, different faiths and socio-economic groups. I am blessed and humbled to say that the studio has become a true community center, bringing people together that would have never been part of each other communities before! I have 19 yr old gang members from Newburgh NY practicing next to 45 yr old stay at home moms. It blows my mind and brings me to my knees with gratitude every time see it. What I hear over and over again about the studio is that it feels like a home- so joyful, accepting and uplifting. I have to say I have been able to be a conduit for such an amazing space due in large part to your writing and teachings. You have helped me open my heart in new and beautiful ways to see the essence of myself….to allow me to provide a safe space for people to realize the same about themselves.
So thank you- you have made a profound impact on a small town.
owner of Shambhala Yoga Center in Beacon NY
Calling all locals to Los Angeles….Tomorrow night Mark is teaching at a local joint in Santa Monica 6:15PM. Love to see you there. Im also wondering if we could all get together and help each other with ideas for our students and clients we are currently teaching. Run ideas part each other and come up with some other ones for each other! Anatomically, philosophically, emotional subtle body work and the “shit Happens” category of course too ;). An online chat room (can’t find the one they say is here, someone send me link perhaps? Katfromicca@gmail.com. Get in touch if you’d like to work towards an in person group talk/hang! xKatrina
Sometimes something exaggerated has to be happening in order that we feel anything. However, there is a new possibility for us. Look at the natural world – all creatures, except humans, are contemplating, very still and alert, immersed in their natural being. We too can enjoy this depth in our special human and unique personal qualities.
simply moving in rhythm with our breath creates that natural state of being. watch cats, for instance, placid and self-contained, yet well aware of what’s going on around them, even when they seem to be sleeping.
“The most powerful healing force we all have is our breath. Allow your breath to work its magic on you. Let the breath start and end any movement in your yoga practice.”
Just a few days ago I learned that you can actually breathe, or talk someone through a mild heart attack. That slow, soft breaths and relaxing talk can in fact save someones life. I learned this in a 1st AID class from an EMT.
Simply focusing on our breath can bring us peace. Simply focusing on our breath, when we have trouble falling asleep, can cure insomnia. Simply listening to our breath as we live our lives can make us feel better throughout the day.
We always have our breath with us. “Our body loves our breath. Our breath loves our body.”
“Where does your breath come from?” or, “What breathes you?”
In Buddhism, I think, the statement is, “The Breath inside the Breath.” In the Bible, in the Old testament it says, “God breathed into Adams nostrils and gave him life.” In the new Testament it says that, “Jesus breathed on them (His disciples), and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.”
All together we have Breath, Body, Life, Spirit. We ARE wholeness!
“In the stages of life the ratio of asana and pranayama to the contemplative aspects of practice naturally change.”
As I get older, (I’ll be 60 in July) my asana practice becomes more gentle, my breathing becomes deeper and slower, and the relationship between the two becomes more intimate. My time spent in silence, listening to my surroundings becomes more lovely, too.
“There’s no need to seek anything from your yoga. Just do your yoga.”
…and enjoy the pleasure of your own body, breath, and Life.
“Every asana move starts and ends with the breath. Doing just this will transform your yoga practice.”
This is the second of Krishnamachryas five principles of yoga. If the movement is five seconds, the breath should be about seven seconds. The breath envelops the movement.
“The breath is never constant – it can be soft, loud or chaotic, and many other things. During your yoga practice notice the different features of your breath – notice when it changes shape. What changed in your body? ”
The relationship between our body and our breath is so intimate, that when there is a change in one, there will be a change in the other. When our breath is short or labored, we may be resisting discomfort in our body. We can adjust our body to ease our breath. The body serves the breath, not the other way around.
“What happens when you get stuck in your practice, when it seems too hard to get on the mat?” M.W.
For me, a simple standing forward bend or two, or maybe a few seated twists does the trick. Any movement that is linked to my breath, that feels good, usually gets me wanting more.
So asana is for the breath. And the breath is your guide to the asana. M.W.
In asana practice, follow your breath, not your ambition.
“The main benefit I get from my yoga is …..?” Mark Whitwell
increased pleasure in my daily life.
“An unrestricted body and mind, with Life’s unqualified force moving through it, is every person’s birthright.” M.W.
This is accomplished through a daily asana practice, which removes impurities and allows for freedom of your Life force.
“If we are tense, we cannot observe anything but our tension. If we are straining there is no yoga. If we strain with effort, the musculature will tighten. Strength will not receive. So, be comfortable in your practice. Accept where you are, who you are, let go of effort, and stay with the breath. “M.W
This is true, not only in our asana practice, but in our thinking as well. To attempt to, “be here now,” creates tension. We are trying to be somewhere when we are already there. We are always who we should be and where we should be.
“The only reason we choose to do yoga is for the pleasure.Take pleasure in your yoga today.” M.W.
this is one of my favorite quotes. so often we become obsessed with ‘going to the next pose’ or ‘going deeper’, when all we really need is to enjoy ourselves where we are.
“To live in a natural state requires no teaching because it is already Given.” M.W.
no struggle, no searching to get somewhere, nothing else is needed but to simply live and to live simply.
“What you truly need is not secret knowledge but a realistic
practice that will allow you to navigate through
the noise and chaos of your life, and direct you to the
Source of peace and power that is in you.”
from Mark’s book: The Promise
“The moment you reestablish a connection to your
Source, all outside influences become expressions of happiness
and well-being instead of futile attempts to achieve
it. From here, you are open and free enough to deal with
whatever presents itself to you, supported by the knowledge
that this intimate connection with your source of
strength and truth is all that is required to feel safe and
from The Promise”
I always say that “depressed” means
“deep rest.” Let it do its nurturing work.
from ‘The Promise.’
Just as the tree requires nothing extra to confirm its authenticity,
neither do we. There need be no more seeking
for what or who we are, because in our being that is
expressed through breath and sex, we are the full-blown
wonder of life.
from ‘The Promise’
Intimacy with the ordinary life is the principal means of a spiritual
or religious life. From “The promise”
Hi Mark I have just discovered your blog, I have been emailing you but I understand how busy you must be! I really just wanted to say that I am half way through The Promise…it is PURE GOLD! You are the wisest man I know, love Anthea, Christchurch.