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A simple solution


A toothpaste factory had a problem: they sometimes shipped empty boxes, without the tube inside. This was due to the way the production line was set up, and people with experience in designing production lines will tell you how difficult it is to have everything happen with timings so precise that every single unit coming out of it is perfect 100% of the time. Small variations in the environment (which can’t be controlled in a cost-effective fashion) mean you must have quality assurance checks smartly distributed across the line so that customers all the way down the supermarket don’t get pissed off and buy someone else’s product instead.

Understanding how important that was, the CEO of the toothpaste factory got the top people in the company together and they decided to start a new project, in which they would hire an external engineering company to solve their empty boxes problem, as their engineering department was already too stretched to take on any extra effort.

The project followed the usual process: budget and project sponsor allocated, RFP, third-parties selected, and six months (and $8 million) later they had a fantastic solution — on time, on budget, high quality and everyone in the project had a great time. They solved the problem by using some high-tech precision scales that would sound a bell and flash lights whenever a toothpaste box weighing less than it should. The line would stop, and someone had to walk over and yank the defective box out of it, pressing another button when done.

A while later, the CEO decides to have a look at the ROI of the project: amazing results! No empty boxes ever shipped out of the factory after the scales were put in place. Very few customer complaints, and they were gaining market share. “That’s some money well spent!” – he says, before looking closely at the other statistics in the report.

It turns out, the number of defects picked up by the scales was 0 after three weeks of production use. It should’ve been picking up at least a dozen a day, so maybe there was something wrong with the report. He filed a bug against it, and after some investigation, the engineers come back saying the report was actually correct. The scales really weren’t picking up any defects, because all boxes that got to that point in the conveyor belt were good.

Puzzled, the CEO travels down to the factory, and walks up to the part of the line where the precision scales were installed. A few feet before it, there was a $20 desk fan, blowing the empty boxes out of the belt and into a bin.

“Oh, that — one of the guys put it there ’cause he was tired of walking over every time the bell rang”, says one of the workers.

This story came to us via e-mail. We do not know the source of the story or even if this is a true story. But we love the story because it provides us with a metaphor that illustrates the power of simplicity. Many times we get lost in jargon and complexity while the answer stares us in our face, waiting for us to get off our high horse. In yoga we look for complexity where simplicity works just fine. We wish to study complex sutras and esoteric text while neglecting our simple practice. Let us keep in mind that complexity eventually unfolds to simplicity and that we are better off waiting for the process to happen on its own.

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Early influence

Early Influence

Who made me a nerd?

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Larry Sherman interview

Larry Sherman shows off his reduction in size

Larry Sherman

Larry Sherman lost 350+ pounds using yoga. We recently published his story here. But when we talked to Larry we found out that this is not just a fascinating weight loss story, but a story of triumph against overwhelming odds. Here is the full interview:
What was the diet plan you were on when you began losing weight?
I ate three nutritious meals with no eating in between. I eliminated all products with any type of flour and all sweeteners and sugars. No desserts, breads, pasta. This is the diet I follow even now.

My discovery was that I am a Food Addict and these particular foods create a craving in me similar to the one I had when I used drugs and alcohol. I don’t eat any processed foods, I make everything from scratch. It is not as hard as it seems. It is really quite easy once you get the hang of it.

What was the role of yoga in your weight loss?
I weighed over 550lbs when I started. I could not physically do any exercise: I could hardly walk or climb stairs or even sit up for long periods of time. It was an exertion to even breathe. After I lost the first 50-70lbs I wanted to do something and I met a yoga teacher who told me I could do yoga at my current weight of over 500lbs and she would help me. Yoga taught me many things: when I got into distress in a pose I was told to calm my mind and breathe and concentrate on the breath instead of my mind. So when I felt like eating, (usually because I was upset about something) I learned to breathe and concentrate on my breathing and find peace of mind. When I did this I found that I would feel peace instead of distress and didn’t have to eat over it. Also I learned that when I am uncomfortable in a pose that I could work through it mentally and actually become comfortable with feeling discomfort. So when life gets uncomfortable I don’t run from it, I work through all I can do at the moment and work through the mental discomfort like I do to deal with the physical discomfort on my mat.

Did you go to the gym (besides doing yoga) when you were losing weight? If so what was your exercise program? Continue reading

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I saw how yoga helped others and I was hooked!

Stacie Dooreck Picture

Stacie Dooreck

I was blessed to be born into a family that was already introduced to yoga as it came to the west. My father took a yoga teacher training with Swami Sachidananda ( Guru of Integral Yoga) and was involved with Siddha Yoga. He took us to meet Swami Muktananda for ‘spiritual awakening’ when I was a young.

My mother and father became full vegetarian after learning its health and non-violence benefits from the Gurus. They ate no meat, poultry, or fish by the time I was born, so I was also raised vegetarian and I have never tasted meat or fish in my life. All this planted the seeds for a lifelong journey of teaching and practicing yoga.

As far as hatha yoga (the yoga of postures) goes, I saw my father doing shoulder stand in his meditation room as I grew up, but didn’t start myself until I needed it, at age 17.

In high school I had neck pain (from working out in a gym and waitressing). My chiropractor suggested yoga, a VHS tape by Lilias Folan in fact. I tried a 30 min class via VHS and by day two of it all my neck pain was gone. No MRI needed, and I was hooked. The feeling of deep peace and relaxation I felt at the end was like nothing I had experienced before. I did that video daily through my senior year in high school and as a freshman in college.

As I entered college I started meditating per my fathers suggestions and learned the Sivananda hatha yoga sequence from “Sivananda Companion to Yoga”. Soon after I took my first hatha yoga class in NYC at the Sivananda Yoga Center. I practiced that sequence almost daily for 1-2 yrs. As a teenager it was the practice of postures that I liked best, challenging myself with the more advanced ones. The practice of yoga postures helped me become more flexible and balanced. And the practice of breathing exercises helped me through anxiety attacks at certain phases of college and gave me a tool for stress reduction. And both of these combined helped open me up to deeper spiritual realms and strengthened my connection with the vast and deep universe. I felt such amazing shifts on every level that I wanted to dive deeper in my own practice. So I took the Sivananda teacher training, living for a month at the yoga ashram in Canada. The experience was challenging and ‘different’ for a 20 yr old, but it was life changing too. It planted further seeds for my lifelong practice and eventual teaching of yoga. I saw yoga as something that put you on a spiritual path, gave you discipline, and was a tool for wellness and balance of body and mind. I felt that I had to share this amazing gift with others. Soon after I returned to my college dorm, I started teaching yoga to my friends and conducted relaxation workshops for my dorm mates. I watched with fascination how yoga helped others as it did me, and I was hooked. Ever since the learning and sharing continues.

Stacie Dooreck is now based in Miami, teaching and sharing yoga with others:

Do you have a story to share? Please send us your story: info [at] mylifeyoga [dot] com

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Tending the Sacred Fire

Picture of Kino MacGregor

Kino MacGregor

The inner light of yoga is like a scared fire. It is the true heart and spirit of the practice. While potent and powerful the magic of the practice is also vulnerable and tenuous. The sacredness of the practice can die easily if we do not tend to it every day. Amidst the cynic’s voice and the inevitable burn-out that comes with steady devotion the true yoga practitioner must find the indefatigable courage to re-kindle the spiritual fire every day.

The sacred fire that illuminates the path of yoga is at once the fire of purification, the karmic fire, and spiritual bliss. In essence the light that shines forth from the practice is nothing less than the revelation of the soul. Yoga assumes that there is divinity in each and every sentient being and it’s sometimes lonely practice aims to give you a pathway to taste the nectar of that divinity within.

In my own physical practice of Ashtanga Yoga strength was pure magic for me. I can still remember the sensation of my shoulder collapsing when I took my first trip to a simple plank position. Even worse was the sensation of falling out of headstand every day with a loud crashing sound for eight straight months. The experience was so devastating that I doubted my ability to ever build strength in my body at all. Until the day when I began to experience the connection between the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual body I had no way to build a path towards the results that I wanted. One day the magic of the physical movement suddenly revealed a hidden inner realm of mental, emotional, and spiritual strength. In essence my physical weakness was a kind of manifestation of the worldview that I held deeply within. I believed myself to be weak and so I was. I believed in my limitations, my feeling of “less than”, and my doubt. Plagued by insecurity not only could I not lift my body weight off the ground but I could also not stand up for what I believed in. I had to learn true spiritual strength, self confidence at the deepest level, and connection with my own inner divinity before the physical movement that I wanted within my practice would unfold. The first step was that I had to cultivate a belief in the possibility that I, with all my weakness, would someday be strong. I was so weak that I had accomplished teachers give up on. One even told me that I would have to wait many lifetimes before I could perform some the arm balances that I do nearly every day now. Yet, I had to believe in my own dream and work towards it every day, even when I was the only one who left who had faith.

In some ways belief comes from an innocent place within where we are willing to suspend the solidity of doubt and take a chance on the unknown. True teachers understand that belief is a gift that leads to unwavering faith when cared for over time. A lineage of teachers who have each tended to the sacred fire of yoga with integrity and devotion pass on this gift to students who will ultimately be the next teachers themselves. It is crucial to the survival of yoga as a spiritual practice that we understand just how valuable the gift we receive really is. Without the careful cultivation of spiritual practice through years of faithful service there is no foundation to share yoga from. Each time you practice you open your heart to receive the gift of yoga’s sacred inner fire. What you do with it after you feel the flame ignite within your heart is your choice. It is up to each yoga practitioner today to determine whether the magical heart of the practice will survive to reach future generations.

Yoga is more than an exercise to help alleviate lower back pain. It is a comprehensive tool for spiritual evolution that seeks to give every practitioner a direct experience of the divinity within themselves. Faith in a greater spiritual force is a necessary component along the spiritual path. There is a magical essence to the practice that defies the bounds of logical thought. Yoga sometimes demands that you abandon reason and side with intuition. The power and presence of a master teacher, or perhaps even a Guru, sometimes instills the kind of non-logical experience that can shift whole paradigms. However these paradigm shifts do not rely on naiveté or blind adoration, all that is needed is the small seed of faith and diligent practice. If you muster this for a long enough time you will eventually come to an heart opening experience that breaks through the boundaries of logical thought and open the door that leads to the experience of your own true self. The magical journey through hidden doorways within your own body leads you to an inner realm. An open mind, a courageous heart, and a healed body are all steps along the path of self-discovery. Without these tools the movements of physical yoga practice lose their sacred fire. With these tools the movements of physical yoga burn through negative behavioral patterns, release hidden pathways of energy, and illuminate the lives of everyone around you.

Kino MacGregor is one of only 14 people in the United States to receive Certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga from its founder, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India and is the youngest woman to hold this title. In 2006, she and her husband Tim Feldmann founded Miami Life Center where they now teach daily classes, workshops and intensives together. Kino is a life coach and Ph.D. candidate in holistic health. She has a Masterʼs Degree from New York University. She has been featured in Yoga Journal, Yoga Mind Body Spirit, Yoga Joyful Living, Travel & Leisure Magazine, Ocean Drive Magazine, Boca Raton Magazine, Florida Travel & Life Magazine, Six Degrees Magazine as well as appearing on Miami Beachʼs Plum TV and the CBS Today Show. More details here.

Do you have a story how you found yoga? Or the impact of yoga on your life? We would love to hear about it! Please send it to: info [at] mylifeyoga [dot] com

You may also like: A Taste Of Mysore Magic

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