Thursday, November 8, 2012

Move That Tree!!

Namaste and welcome back!!

Right off the bat I will go ahead and admit that I could perhaps be the absolute worst blogger ever!  Life, laziness, work, inaccessibility, any number of excuses will do. The truth is that I found it difficult to record my life while in the midst of trying to navigate through it. In the all in important quest to be "present", its hard to record moments as they slip immediately into the past. This started out to be a travel log of sorts, just a way to update students and friends about my whereabouts, experience and adventures. Along the way whenever I would stop long enough to give a status report, invariably personal experience, lessons I had learned and how I process  and view things through the magnifying glass off yoga were also reported. Trouble is, what happens when the traveling stops and there's no adventure to report? What about everyday life is compelling enough to blog about? What daily lessons can be thought provoking enough to share?


Every single day there is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves. We learn what drives us, what motivates us, the things that tempt us, the things that really show our "unattractive" side. And though we tend to back away from our fears or what causes resistance or resentment, we learn about these things as well. And so in my daily trials I realized that my travels have to be more inward. I have to navigate through the rocky roads of life from right where I stand. I need to visit the state of who I am. What ruffles my feathers? How do I overcome circumstance? In the past few months I've been able to see exactly what I'm made of. I've come to realize that I'm made of some pretty strong stuff :). I've always said that obstacles are in place to make the spirit strong. Burdens build toughness. We decide that our conditions are not going to be our final testament. We start to believe that anything is possible, in spite of.

No where is this sentiment more evident that in children. Remember your child-like enthusiasm? Remember when giants and dragons were real and your father had super human strength? Remember in your youthful imagination when any and everything was possible? As a child do you remember not having enough? Or was life simply abundant? I was reminded of this attitude the other day as I showed up to teach a noon class at a local fitness facility. As I parked my car, a very cute family was walking to their mini-van. The mother told the little girl to stay on the sidewalk and wait until she got the doors open and put the baby she was carrying in the car seat. The little girl went to the sidewalk and began to lean against on of the young sapling trees that had been planted maybe year ago. As her mother went around to get her, she asked "honey (I didn't hear her name), what are you doing?" The little girl was at that point really pushing now, with both hands, feet digging in. She said, "i'm gonna move this tree outta my way!" The mother said she didn't think the tree would move, I on the other had thought that this was the most awesome thing ever, and immediately wished that I could cultivate that same attitude. There was absolutely no doubt in her mind that if she continued to push, the tree would move. No fear. No expectation of failure. No feeling that she lacked the strength. Only the resolve of a small child. My lesson for the day. Look out trees, here I come!


Yogi J

Friday, March 30, 2012

There's No Place Like Ommmm

Hey there my friends how long has it been, a month? I suppose you think I've flown out of this orbit on my traveling mat by now, right? Actually I landed in a familiar place, Richmond VA. Back among friends and loved ones, back to back to responsibility and reality.  I also landed right back into a full teaching schedule and tons of exciting work to do for Project Yoga Richmond. I also landed in what could possibly be the worst pollen season of the century, thanks to the "non" winter here in the southeast. Kinda makes me long for the clean ocean breezes that kept me company for the month of February....

Believe it or not, other than a year and a half in college, my little venture was the longest I had ever been away from "home". From 2/1/12 through 3/12/12. In reality I was only two states away. I didn't go very far at all. Yet my trip took me a very long way in terms of my growth as a teacher and more importantly as a person. I learned I didn't need a lot to survive and I enjoy solitude. I like being a Nomad. My practice deepens when I spend more time doing it, instead of talking about it. Some days it was almost unbearable to not see my youngest son for that long, and more than once I was in tears when I got off the phone with him. I also had a few times to really ask myself, "why am I doing this", when expectations were high, but attendance was low. And every phone call I received reminding me of my responsibilities in Richmond, I knew I was not on a vacation. But I got to practice yoga everyday, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. I got to talk about yoga and what it meant to be a Yogi everyday. Everyday I learned something new from someone, or shared some new experience. And I was well taken care of. There was always someone offering a meal, or having a place for me to shower or wash clothes. I really learned to appreciate the kindness of others, how to be a good guest and to appreciate the exchange of energy we all share. And it was that exchange of energy that I will treasure most.

I will probably never be able to fully express the joy and the outright pleasure I had living in a yoga studio, living, breathing and talking yoga everyday. Talking about it in a "how can we use our practice to help us lead more fulfilling lives" type of way. As a plus, there happened to be a teacher training in progress. With the grace of the instructor, I was giving the opportunity to sit in from time to time and observe the cultivation of the next generation of yoga teachers. It was really uplifting to see the dedication, the inquisitiveness, the lightbulbs going off, even the angst and anxiety of wondering if one will ever know enough or be qualified enough to take the responsibility of teaching yoga. Something I know every teacher who has ever gone through training has felt, including me. I still sometimes feel ill-equipped to do what I do, but this is what keeps me from feeling as though I've "figured it out". I still try to cultivate the mentality of those students, keeping a quality of "learning" in my yoga practice. I think being on the road for a little while allowed me to the freedom to learn again, to study, to reflect and to continue "becoming".

And now back home. Back to being a daddy, back to having familiar faces to look upon and familiar streets to travel on. Back to regular schedules and regularly set alarm clocks. Back to being the head of an organization. Back to new challenges and opportunities. Back to basics. Back to becoming.

Peace and Blessings,

Yogi J Miles

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Goin "Coastal"

Give Thanks!!!

Hello to you, fellow travelers of life. I trust this post finds you healthy, happy and free. Today was what I would call a "chill" day. No classes, no appointments, no demands, no expectations. I woke up late, got out of bed late, had a late breakfast and then hit the beach. Today was pretty glorious, as far as days go and I used it to read and prepare for THREE workshops this upcoming weekend: an arm-balancing/inversion workshop,  a workshop based on the concept of Dharma, and a workshop for teachers focusing on flowing transitions. This coming on the heels of a weekend spent in Charleston, SC, where I taught the free community at the Lululemon Showroom and followed that up with a two-hr master class at Serenity Now Yoga. I also managed to squeeze in some practice for myself, visiting the Jivamukti Yoga School of Charleston last sunday. All in all this trip, excursion, journey, expedition - whatever you want to call it - has provided me with the opportunity to visit, talk to, teach, learn from, and just be constantly in the presence of other yogis and yoginis. It seems as though my entire world is an ashram and everyone I meet is part of my "sangha", my spiritual family.

Below are some new members of my extended family and the latest stop along the way:

After two hrs of Vinyasa, the students were all smiles

As I continue along this path, I've been continuously asking myself why I do what I do, and why did I choose this particular route, at this particular time. It has not been easy, yet it has been less that two months. That's not nearly enough time for wondering "what if" or second guessing. I've been thinking about my Dharma, and how I can best contribute to making the world better. I've been trying to figure out how can I become a better teacher, a better leader, a better father. The quiet and seclusion (well except for the live streaming b-ball. Thank you internet) has afforded me the chance to really get to know who I really am, and really observe closely the areas in my life that still need a bit of "touching up".

And what have I learned? We are all works in progress. We are all searching for what is True for us, and (hopefully) how to best reflect that Truth in such a way that is to the benefit of our fellow Being. My truth is I teach yoga. This is the vehicle that I have been given to help spread love and joy to whoever needs it. Yoga is my teacher. This is how I connect, how I reach out, how I serve. And I'm happy to do so :).

Peace and Love from the Mat,


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Welcome to J'ville!

Its been only two weeks since the last blog post, yet it seems like two years. Much has happened since that last post. Here's a recap:

-left RVA on 1/6/12
-taught workshops in Blacksburg, Charlotte, Huntersville and Raleigh
-visited Greenville, Asheville and Carrboro
-took classes at wonderful studios: In Balance Yoga, Be Yoga Charlotte, 8th Street Studio, and Southern Om
-returned to RVA and moved out of my home of 5 years, and placed most of my belongings in storage

And now? Now the Traveling Mat has landed in Myrtle Beach, SC for the month of February and I find myself practically living in a yoga studio called Yoga In The Forest, which is the sister studio to Yoga In Common. Both are owned by Linda Phillips, an energetic visionary who does not seem to know the meaning of impossible. As has been the case since I began this journey, she has opened her doors and given me shelter. And what better place for my "wilderness" experience than Yoga "in the Forest"? I have begun to call this place my Ashram or Asrama, aka J'ville.

But first....

I have to revisit the past for a moment and highlight two yoginis I met along the way. The first is the lovely and silky-voiced Christine Navarro of Charlotte, NC. She is the co-owner of Be Yoga Charlotte. Her vinyasa class is a wonderful collaboration of hard work and gentleness, and her teaching style flows like some hidden waterfall in a magical place. I had the opportunity once before to take her class, and it was at that moment I decided that whenever I'm fortunate enough to be in Charlotte, I should visit her space. She is a phenom.

Christine Navarro
me an Christine
The second teacher is Phyllis Rollins, who opened the first yoga studio in Charlotte, the Yoga Center, back in 1993 during what she called "the dinosaur days" of yoga in that area. It is now currently located inside the 8th Street Studio, which recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary. Her method is Iyengar. What can I say about this person? Simply, her teaching and instruction are exquisite. Her cues are like subliminal messages. Her class began with a 10 minute reading and discussion from the sutras of Patanjali, and the studio is one of the most beautiful I've ever been in. And she is one of the best.

me and Phyllis
 AND NOW.... and now, in the back of this yoga studio, my hermitage, my ashram. In two days I have finished more that half of The Ramayana, I have begun to ease into a morning meditation practice, I attended a ribbon cutting by the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the one year anniversary of Carolina Power Yoga (another studio that will be like a second home to me while I'm here), and have had numerous conversations with yoga teachers old and new about yoga, life, and Dharma; our truth, our mission, our work. I have begun to understand what my own dharma could be, my mission in life, and how to best live my truth. Some time ago I realized that I wouldn't be completely happy unless I was being useful, or being used in a fulfilling way. When I began teaching yoga, I knew that this was the way I would be able to make the biggest contribution to the world. Yoga has given me the opportunity to make the most positive difference in the world. And on this traveling mat, I intend to make the most of that opportunity.


Friday, January 20, 2012

So Much Love, So Little Time

Hello Fellow Travelers!

One thing about this blogging business is in order to make it work, you have to keep it up (duh). So what I'm working on is a consistent day or days to actually post and then stick with it. Only problem is, life is happening at such a constant rate, that I hardly have time to thing about reporting one experience before I'm knee deep in the next one. And then the next. So since my last posting I have been to Greenville SC, Ashville NC and now in a little, but well know coffee shop called Jessee's in Carrboro, NC. Last night I slept in a barn (a very comfy, heated barn), that is actually Beth's Dance Barn. The owner, Beth Lavinder is well known in these parts for being somewhat of a Hoop Guru.

Beth Lavinder
 Her house is a work of art and her spirit is as beautiful as she is. And this is how it goes. It seems that many great souls have been place strategically along my path. With that thought in mind, I must set aside a few lines to talk about my experience in Greenville, Sc and the family I stayed with while there.

Sarah Kate


Joel, Audrey, Sarah, Aaron, Carmen and Jay
There are four siblings not picture above, which should give some clue as to the intense, close knit feeling of FAMILY you feel as soon as you walk through door. In this house only Sarah, daughter Evaline, her two youngest brothers and her parents reside. And each moment, every interaction, every occasion was an opportunity to display radiant love and affection from each other. A very devout family that prayed nightly together, and I can only imagine that this is as it has been going back to the birth of the first Hamilton baby. At dinner everyone, including guests, had to offer in round-robin fashion one thing that had been learned during the day, and on thing we were thankful for. Each night my answer was the same. The spirit of Bhakti yoga is alive and well in the abode of the Hamiltons.

And now tonight. Tonight I'm sleeping in a loft in a place known as The Flow Jo, where among the many things taught here, are circus arts. Aerial Silks and lyra hang from the ceiling, there are mats and items for juggling. There is a drum of every size and shape. There are instruments and enough hoops outfit an army (of hoopers). The gracious owners of this incredible place opened their doors, but more importantly, their hearts to a traveling yogi from RVA and his mat. Each and every step of the way I see more and more of the goodness in everyone, because that's what I'm looking for. I'm in a constant state of asking the Universe to guide me, to point me in the direction of good Samaritans, and to watch over me as I continue on this journey. Soon I'll be taking a break my brief nomad life and wind my way home. But only for a little while. My mat and I still have some traveling to do.

Give Thanks!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Place Called Charlotte, NC

Hello Fellow Travelers,

As I settle in one week into the start of my journey, I must offer thanks and gratitude to my hosts thus far. First, Bryce Abbott, son of my good friends Alec and Stacy Abbott. Bryce is a Master's Student at Virginia Tech, yogi, cross-fitter, bearded adventurer and all around good "dude". (i may never say the word "dude" again after staying with my buddy's Bryce and his awesome roommates. I should do a side story on his GIANT computer genius of a friend we shall refer to as "Mac") Bryce was kind enough to let me crash at his pad for a few days while in Blacksburg.

And now in Charlotte, NC, I am the honored guest of My good friend Brandon Powell, and his wife Kim. Included in the family: two American bull dogs, Leo and Kali, and a cat named Kitty. Brandon is a black-belt in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, yogi, philosopher and the owner of his own "Dojo" the name for his soon to be opening space for BJJ and and dedicated to the training of the body and the mind. His brother Randy is the Co-Owner of a great raw-food restaurant, Luna's Living Kitchen. Today I only got a coffee and a really good smoothie, but I have a few days to test out the menu.

It is such a blessing to have individuals along your path that can either show you the way, or offer you a place of refuge. I think it's even more of a blessing to BE the individual able to offer the aid to those traveling along your path. Have you ever given someone the directions to some place that you loved? Or knew precisely in what direction to send the traveler in? Have you ever shared with someone some small bit of information that the next person found to be invaluable? It is a great feeling! We do these small deeds because we were placed alongside those who needed us, even for a brief moment. And we perform this act not because we expect some great reward when the traveler finds the gas station. We do it without consideration or expectation. The task is done simply because we were in position to do so. I think this is Karma Yoga. When we begin to see every task or act as a simple offering to the continuous flow of energy, and in our own way begin to direct this flow around us in a positive way. I see this as the way we encourage blessings to come to us, whether it's someones hospitality or directions, or that thing you most need at that particular time.

We are all on the path so somewhere, may you all find a soft place to rest your head.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Off With A Bang!!

When I started preparing for this trip, I had no idea what was going to happen. Literally. But I knew something positive was happening in my life and I couldn't be afraid to tap into it. Over the past few weeks as the time approached for me to hit the road, the discussions about my travels took on a similar theme. Time and time again I was told that many people think about doing something bold, but never take the chance. Others cited family or work obligations. My friend Yaco said it best by saying "while others think, you do". It took me a long time to get that point, and honestly the various circumstances of life have been pushing into this direction for sometime now. I got to a point where I had to take a very intense introspective look at who I am, where I was in my stage of growth as a person, what was my value, and more importantly, what could I contribute to this life. With that I decided to take a chance. A chance on myself to do everything I was capable of doing to live my life to the fullest.

So I started making phone calls and sending emails. I wrote down the the info of yoga studios from VA to Florida, armed with my training, my experience and my love for yoga. That combined with the powerful energy from my students and colleagues in Richmond compelled some to take a chance on a yogi that hadn't written any books, or made any dvd's. Trust me, I received more "no's" than "yes's". But then, many things happened that could be viewed as simple coincidence or serendipity, such as my chance encounter with Becky McDaniel, owner of In Balance Yoga Studio in Blacksburg, Va. We were tagged in a note together on FaceBook. To me that was a  sign and I rode that Universal wave all the way down to southwest, VA. There I was met with many skilled and well-polished yogis, classes were well attended, and everyone left happy and empowered. And I got an invitation to return someday soon.  I would say, it was a success. And honestly, I knew it would be. I've been placed here like we all have, for a purpose. My Dharma is to help people realize that everything we need is already within our grasp. We only need to take hold. In two days I'll be off to Charlotte, NC, riding my Mat headfirst into the fullness of life. Thank you for riding with me.

Love and Respect,

J Miles

Sunday, January 1, 2012

T-Minus (part 2)

Hello fellow travelers,

Today is January 1, 2012, Happy New Year!!! In a few days I'm gonna gas up the Blackbird (my 94 toyota Camry, named after the jet the X-Men fly around in) and head to southwest, Va to start this oddessy. Since my last post I have picked up new teaching assignments in Charleston, SC. and added a complete teaching schedule. It can be found down on the left side of the page. I'm still fumbling my way around this blog business (as well as the twitter account, But I'll find a way to get the good word out as often as I can. I am so blessed to have this opportunity and I am so fortunate to have been encouraged and supported by many, many awesome spirits that have come into my life, thank you. I have been supplied with an abundance of energy to see me through, and I know I am on the right path.  See you soon on the Mat.

Love and Peace,

Yogi J Miles