Tag: Mark Whitwell

This is Water

by on Jun.15, 2013, under Musings on Yoga

tree on waterMarkWhitwellVertical

Today I sat with Mark Whitwell, a teacher that I have had the privilege of working with over the past 15 years or so. I can claim “early adaptor” of Mark’s unique teachings.  In a world filled with Marketing and Yoga: i.e. commercial “body beautiful” branding of different yoga styles, Mark remains committed to teaching the essence of Yoga. Even after much exposure to his teaching, I remain awed at his ability to cut through to the core of yoga- free from culture, style, competition, perfection, body obsession and to remind us of why we love yoga in the first place. I believe that what Mark is trying remind us of with his breath-based simple yoga practice is similar to what David Foster Wallace speaks of in his beautiful Kenyon College commencement address. Listen to that here and you will understand a bit of what I write. )

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

Foster Wallace reminds us of the water of existence just as Mark does with breath/body practice and ( Mark) adds something slightly different in also leading us to the water of our yoga practice. It’s as simple and obvious as breathing and yet we forget that we are breathing. He points us to embodiment with utter simplicity. He distills the remarkable esoteric teachings of yoga ( Via the teacher of teachers, Sri Krishanmacharya)  into a few sound principles without boring us to sleep with the pedantic “restraints and  responsibilities” many of which deny the body and the feminine. Here they are: practice yoga and intimacy daily, ( 7 minutes per day is a good place to start to remember that we Are) inhale and exhale, receive strength (feminine intertwining with masculine), there is no male without female, asana prepares us for pranayama which prepares us for bandha and for intimacy Meditation arises as naturally as grace (siddhi) not through tortuous labor.

Mark points us to the ineffable. “Here is water” he seems to be saying looking around the room: “You are This, participating in Life Itself, as Yourself.”  And there is no need to look any further.

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Daily Practice

by on Feb.15, 2010, under Musings on Yoga

Like Brushing your Teeth.

My friend, and inspirational yoga teacher, Mark Whitwell always tells his students not to get too hung up about personal home practice. He says it’s just like brushing your teeth. Something you do everyday. Something that’s as simple and necessary as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. He uses this point to encourage students to commit to a daily practice but without elevating that practice to a level that cannot be achieved like a perfect practice. Simple is perfect. The idea that yoga practice is a practical self- care routine like brushing your teeth takes the pressure off of the yoga itself.

This simple but daily methodology can be applied to other practices as well, like writing. Recently, a writing friend recommended the article, “The Habit of Writing” in the . The article also invokes the daily brushing of teeth with the daily writing of words.
I would add that a ten minute daily yoga or writing practice is indeed like brushing teeth, but that it could evolve to something more involved like flossing, shampooing, conditioning, ironing clothes, etc. Keep it simple and see where it goes. In the end you may have a whole chapter in your hand, or a great foundation built up to take your yoga deeper.

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